Consecration Is a Generic Supernatural Mystery

I’ve had my eye on Consecration for a while now. I’m a big fan of religious horror, and the film’s distributor, IFC Midnight, is one of my favorite indie distributors in the business. So naturally, I was intrigued from the moment I first heard about this movie. I put it on my must-see list almost right away, and I couldn’t wait to find out what supernatural horrors it had in store for me.

Consecration was directed and co-written by Christopher Smith, and it stars Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Dame Janet Suzman, and Thoren Ferguson. It’s about a young, adamantly atheistic woman named Grace who one day receives the tragic news that her brother has died. He was a priest, and his body turned up at an infamously fanatical convent in Scotland, where the nuns say he killed himself. But predictably, Grace doesn’t buy it.

Instead, she thinks he was murdered, so she sticks around a bit to uncover the truth. While there, she experiences some inexplicable, seemingly supernatural phenomena, and her quest to find out what really happened to her brother leads her to discover a shocking truth about her past and her unexpected connection to the Scottish convent.

Like I said, I was really looking forward to Consecration, and for the first 15 or 20 minutes, I really liked it. To begin, the performances here are all really good, and they hooked me in right away. Most notably, Jena Malone is excellent as Grace, and Danny Huston is fantastic as Fr. Romero, a priest sent by the Vatican to reconsecrate the convent in the wake of the terrible events that occurred there.

What’s more, this opening part of the movie also has a couple of effectively creepy moments, and they did a great job of whetting my appetite and making me want more. Granted, these scenes aren’t all that long, but they show off director Christopher Smith’s legit skill at building tension and atmospheric dread, and they promise great things to come in the rest of the film.

A woman is surrounded by nuns

But then something changes. Once Grace arrives at the convent where her brother died, Consecration turns into a frustratingly generic supernatural mystery, so pretty much the whole rest of the way, I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve seen these exact same plot points play out in countless other movies.

Seriously, how many times have we seen genre films pit unflinching atheists against borderline-fanatical (or actually fanatical) believers in a religious showdown to prove once and for all who’s right? That feels like the plot of just about every religious horror movie ever made, and unfortunately, Consecration doesn’t really do anything to make itself stand out among its cinematic peers.

In fact, I even thought the scares were pretty generic, and that was especially disappointing. Like I said, the first part of this film has some genuinely creepy moments, so seeing the rest of the horror fall flat was a huge letdown. To be fair, most of the scares here are executed well enough, but unlike, say, The Conjuring, they’re not quite good enough to overcome the lack of originality, especially given how lackluster the rest of the movie is.

On top of that, as Grace learns more about the convent and its dark history, Consecration introduces arguably the most generic element of all. We eventually find out that the nuns at the convent are searching for a powerful relic, but at first, nobody says what this thing is. They simply call it a “relic,” and every time I heard someone call it that, I couldn’t help but inwardly cringe a tiny bit.

A priest with nuns behind him.

Granted, there ends up being a good reason why we don’t find out what this relic is right away, but until the movie pulls back the curtain, it just feels like lazy storytelling. It gives the impression that the filmmakers couldn’t be bothered to come up with an actual description or backstory for the object, so they simply had the characters refer to it in the most nondescript way possible.

That being said, I could’ve forgiven that misstep if the identity and history of this relic ended up being really cool, but that’s not at all what happens. Instead, once Consecration lets us in on its secret, the mystery becomes even less interesting. I’m obviously not going to spoil anything, but I will say that I really didn’t like the direction the story took at this point. I think it was a big narrative mistake, and to me, it was the final nail in the coffin for the film.

Nevertheless, I do have to give credit where credit is due. Even though I didn’t like the overall story of this relic, it did give us one really good scene. A bit after we learn what this thing is, the movie uses it to shed light on some unexplained supernatural events that took place earlier in the narrative, and I thought that was pretty cool. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, so it caught me off guard in a good way.

But unfortunately, that one strong point is too little too late. By that point, I had already checked out emotionally, so at the end of the day, I’m sad to say that I can’t recommend Consecration. It has a few high points, like the performances and a handful of cool moments, but the film’s weaknesses outweigh its strengths by a pretty wide margin. It’s just way too similar to way too many other religious horror movies, so if you’re looking for some good new horror to watch, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Consecration came out in limited theaters on February 10, and it’s set to hit VOD on March 3.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

Pinhead holds the Lament Configuration puzzle box, surrounded by chains

The Moral Message of Hellraiser

The Retaliators Is Coming to Blu-ray