Release Date: 02/17/23 [Cinemas]
Studio: IFC Films / Shudder
"After the alleged suicide of her priest brother, Grace travels to the remote Scottish convent where he fell to his death. Distrusting the Church's account, she uncovers murder, sacrilege and a disturbing truth about herself."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Imagine a nun toting a gun. As much as it sounds like the start of a pitch for a 1970s exploitation film, it’s actually how the new horror film Consecration opens. It’s an odd visual, for sure, but not nearly as odd as the film that unfolds over the next 90 minutes.
Directed by Christopher Smith, the film follows a woman named Grace (played by Jena Malone) who flocks to a convent in Scotland after learning that her brother has committed a murder-suicide there. Already convinced that her brother isn’t capable of such an act, she becomes increasingly suspicious after doing a bit of her own investigating. In between dealing with the convent’s shady Patriarchs, she begins to unlock forgotten memories from her past. The more she begins to remember, the more she comes to believe that her arrival at the convent is just a small part of a much larger conspiracy.
One of the best things about Consecration is Smith’s direction. Call it an homage or a just straight-up flex, but in the film’s first five minutes he has Jena Malone recreate that iconic mirror sequence from the totally unrelated Contact under totally different circumstances. While it may seem like an incredibly random choice to some, it perfectly exemplifies Smith’s interest in engaging with the audience through intellect rather than fear.
Sadly, the story, which Smith also co-wrote, is a bit too ambitious to keep that engagement going. Now, it’s not that the story doesn’t make sense. It’s that between the talking corpses, non-stop corrupt Catholics, and time travel, there is truly too much to keep up with. The way the story starts off as a family drama, becomes a murder mystery, and then ends as a supernatural thriller doesn’t help either. What should be a film about a faith crisis ironically suffers as a result of its own identity crisis.
Speaking of identity, Jena Malone winds up being the most consistent thing about the whole film. She really loses herself in her role (complete with a surprisingly strong British accent). As Grace, she delivers a simultaneously vulnerable and determined performance that makes it a little easier to suspend your disbelief, even when you have no idea what is happening.
Anyone interested in seeing this film should know that it’s not like other religiously charged horror films. It’s far from being on the same level as classics such as The Exorcist or The Omen. But it’s also not literal holy crap like the recently released Prey for the Devil or that ridiculous The Conjuring spin-off The Nun. Now, in the Bible, there’s a name for the place where the film falls between both extremes: Purgatory. For the sake of sounding blasphemous, however, let’s just say it’s watchable.