Directed by Christopher Smith.
Starring Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Thoren Ferguson, Will Keen, Janet Suzman, Ian Pirie, Steffan Cennydd, Angela White, Kit Rakusen, Eilidh Fisher, and Jolade Obasola.
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.
The opening moments of writer/director Christopher Smith’s (co-written by Laurie Cook) set the stage for something far more blasphemous and ludicrously entertaining. A Mother Superior pulls out and brandishes a small revolver in broad daylight, targeting someone. Consecration then doubles back to tell a story of how things got to this point, but that journey is much more cliché and beholden to tropes of the religious horror subgenre.
Jana Malone’s optometrist Grace (because, lately, the character is always named Grace in movies like this, under the false impression they are being clever) is summoned to a remote Scotland area following the supposed murder-suicide of her estranged priest brother Michael (Steffan Cennydd), with religion, among other things, having caused them to drift apart years ago.
It’s also quickly made apparent that Mother Superior (the same woman from the opening sequence, as played by Janet Suzman) and the nuns (one of whom seems to have gone mad and slashed out one of her eyes) are hiding something and not being fully transparent about the details regarding Fr. Michael’s death. Everyone is either losing their minds, something supernatural is causing chaos, or there is a rational explanation for everything.
Fr. Romero (Danny Huston) is also called in to assess the situation and salvage the reputation of the convent but also appears to have ulterior motives despite reassuring Grace that he will raise her concerns to the local detectives (a law enforcement unit that, to the surprise of no one, thinks everyone here is crazy).
Amusingly, the detective (Thoren Ferguson) doesn’t believe the crackpot theories the church is spewing for a second and often has humorous responses. Meanwhile, Grace wanders off exploring, coming across a secret diary written in code that she and her brother shared in childhood, suggesting that the information is only for her eyes and mind and that father Fr. Michael knew the convent had nefarious plans for him.
There are some flashbacks to that childhood, including one terrifying sequence depicting their abusive upbringing (often left in cages alongside their mom), but for the most part, Consecration is blandly spinning its gears, telegraphing the majority of its plot. Even the flashbacks go from scarily intense to exaggerated and phony. Once it’s brought up that everyone is looking for an ancient relic, there’s not much surprise where the story is going and what is actually behind the killings and suicides. However, the eventual climactic reveal shown in montage form is deliciously bloody and slickly satisfying.
One wishes that Consecration was less focused on the dry mystery and procedural investigation, leaning into the nuttiness of its central concept rather than saving it for a grand finale reveal that most people will have already seen coming. It’s also not saying much about organized religion, family, or sibling relationships. The cast is committed and entertaining, but the narrative doesn’t fully take advantage of its more cleverly sinister (or dangerously angelic) ideas.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com