The lines of good and evil are blurred in U.K./U.S coproduction Consecration, the latest from director Christopher Smith (Triangle, Severance). It’s a religious-horror film that unfortunately doesn’t offer much new, but has enough redeeming qualities to recommend it, especially to aficionados of the subgenre.
Agnostic eye doctor Grace (Jena Malone) travels to a convent in Scotland when she learns that her brother, a priest, died on the grounds there in a suspected murder/suicide event that also claimed the life of another priest. Convinced that her brother’s death was not at his own hand, she stays to investigate and uncovers dark secrets about both the convent and her own life.
Malone, who was great in last year’s queer horror Swallowed, gives something of a distant performance here, which is probably partly down to working with what she has been given by cowriters Smith and Laurie Cook. She has good chemistry with Janet Suzman as the convent’s Mother Superior-with-a-secret, and their scenes together are some of the film’s best ones. Danny Huston (Frankenstein ) gives a very Danny Huston performance as a priest visiting from The Vatican who guides Grace through the processes of the convent.
The overuse of genre tropes such as an entity suddenly appearing in the background of a shot is balanced out by some intriguing eeriness in the second half of the film, which ratchets up the horror elements after a first half that focuses more on mystery and sleuthing on Grace’s part.
Consecration looks great, boasting superb cinematography and framing, along with gorgeous scenery of the Scottish coast and the convent’s interiors. There’s plenty of the red stuff on white nun’s outfits, as well.
Matters get bogged down at times, and a third-act explanatory flashback seemed a bit much, but Smith’s attempts to tackle the grey area between what constitutes good and evil present some points to chew on for viewers who like to consider the psychology of religion in their fear fare.
Consecration, from IFC Films and Shudder, is exclusively in theaters from February 10, 2023.