‘Consecration’ Is A Clumsy Catholic Thriller – Film Review

IFC Films

Consecration starts as a slow-burning psychological thriller, striving to build tension through religious imagery, minor paranormal scares and a determined yet foolish protagonist. Surrounded by untrustworthy, suspicious characters, Grace (Jenna Malone in a bad wig) begins on a journey of investigating her brother’s questionable suicide. This leads her to a religious covenant in Scotland. With “help” from Father Romero (Danny Huston), a Vatican priest, Grace discovers more than she bargained for about her brother and herself. 

Directed and written by Christopher Smith and co-written by Laurie Cook, Consecration is ambitious. Sadly, the film refuses to live up to its potential. The majority of the horror flick fails to produce the simple emotional hook it so desperately needs to build tension. It attempts to ground cheap paranormal scares within a messy and over-detailed plot. The overall storyline ends up being so convoluted that the few scares are rendered basically ineffective.  

As Grace delves deeper into her brother’s death and their childhood, Consecration tries far too hard to confuse and mislead its audience. Unfortunately, the film fails to build tension for longer than a scene or two. The childhood trauma and emotional backstory reveals are intense and jarring yet are not presented with any sensitivity or justified resolution. This leaves the film lacking character development, emotional insight, and real voice. It pulls from too many different subgenres. Rather than providing the originality Smith clearly intended, the film becomes overly complex and poorly paced. 

IFC Films

Consecration’s strongest feature by far is the imagery. In the first act, lavish shots of the Scottish Isle of Skye showcase blackened water crashing against an angry cliff side. During the final act, scenes of Grace drenched in blood whilst her almost pure white gown engulfs her are genuinely captivating. Undeniably, the real thrills come from the stunning symbolism. Slow shots of a blood-soaked Grace being lifted by many nuns parallel the classic depictions of the crucifixion (or crowd surfing at a gig). These small moments showcase the talent and charm the film has to offer. 

Easily the most peculiar thing about Consecration, Jenna Malone’s dodgy English accent aside, is that, at times, the film felt as if it was desperately attempting to replicate the magic of forgotten thrillers like The Others (2001) and Shutter Island (2010). 

Unlike the well-known classics Consecration evokes, it fails to provide the satisfying twist it promises. There is no emotional undercurrent to strike the pit of our stomachs when Grace’s true destiny is revealed in the final act. More should’ve been left to the imagination. The ambiguity would have aided the presented emotional depth as it would’ve left the plot more open to interpretation.

Instead, we’re left with an ending that tries too hard to answer every question to the point of over-explanation. A good twist is often simplistic in its reveal and logic. What starts as a slow-burn psychological thriller ends as a convoluted fantasy horror, lacking any really frightening elements beyond a ghostly figure in the background or some bad CGI of a nun falling from a cliffside. Overall, Consecration is a messy, tedious watch.

Consecration opened in theatre son February 10

by Kelsie Dickinson

Kelsie (she/her) is a super gay masters graduate from The University of Glasgow. She loves slashers, but hates capitalism. Her favourite films are It Follows, Midsommar, Lost In Translation and Ghost World. Find her on Twitter.

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