Review: Consecration

Written and directed by Christopher Smith, co-written by Laurie Cook, 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. Starring: Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Ian Pirie, Janet Suzman, Thoren Ferguson, Steffan Cennydd, Eilidh Fisher and Victoria Donovan.

It’s strange but true that nuns, violence, suspicion and cliffs are a combination that work so well, and Consecration is yet more proof. Bringing a darkness and fatal edge to an environment which is so strict, conservative and embroiled in age-old traditions, immediately amps up the potential for endless secrets and cover-ups. Christopher Smith and Laurie Cook’s writing takes advantage of that, it sets up plenty of curious questions to be answered and creates an interesting character to guide you through them. It holds your attention well but as the story nears its finale, things start to get a bit messy and clunky, which is a shame as it’s fairly smooth sailing before then. It has a solid foundation and develops the character of Grace (Jena Malone) well but as it tries to double down for a big resolution, it throws off the natural progression and becomes more forced.

Also a shame because it does well to build that atmosphere with Smith’s direction, especially in how it leans further into the horror side of things in its final scenes. Those choices make for a few juicy moments which for any horror fan will always be satisfying. It really makes the most of its setting, grasping onto the danger of its treacherously enticing cliff edge. The cinematography makes the most of the deep colours on offer to push the dark side and take advantage of the picturesque setting. There also feels as though there’s a few nice nods along the way to films like Suspiria and Black Narcissus, which are always a good touch.

One of the elements that’s always a tricky note is accent work but thankfully in this case, Jena Malone gives us a decent English accent. Which when you compare it to how many people have done it so awfully, she deserves a lot of credit. That’s even before you get to the rest of her performance which perfectly unravels as she digs into this mystery. She’s also wonderful alongside Danny Huston, the two create an interesting chemistry and Huston is always good at grasping onto an air of the unknown. Leaving you wondering which side of the line he falls on and can you trust his friendly, helpful demeanour?. There’s also then an entire ensemble of women playing the nuns who are all fantastic, each giving very different personalities and emboldening the suspicion and mystery, particularly Jolade Obasola and Janet Suzman.

Consecration makes the most of its spooky setting and sends its viewers off down a road of unravelling secrets. Jena Malone leads the film well, creating an easily sympathetic but intriguing character in Grace and she’s got great support from Danny Huston and the film’s plethora of nuns. There’s a solid atmosphere and the direction and aesthetic tick the right boxes to ramp up the suspicion but it loses itself in its finale. It’s trying to create a big change in tone and add in a lot of new aspects to the plot and not all of them work, making for a slightly underwhelming ending to what is otherwise an entertaining horror thriller.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Exclusively In Theaters February 10 –

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