A convent is inherently a creepy place, at least on screen. While not every film has opted to make this kind of location a central hub for scares, the potential for, at the minimum, unsettling images, is there for the taking. So, it’s no surprise that something like Consecration decides to lean into that, even while telling a story that’s not purely meant to be frightening. The mixture of genres serves the movie well, lending some heft to something that’s not thin, but definitely is floating about through a number of different elements. It doesn’t all work, but more of it does than not.
Consecration is a mix of horror, mystery, and thriller, bouncing from one to the next, sometimes within the same scene. It’s clearly genre work, but with a desire not to get pegged down as any one thing. It ends up being closer to horror than anything else, but it does lean in to the mystery elements, at least early on.
Grace (Jena Malone) is a woman of science, in stark contrast to her estranged brother Michael (Steffan Cennydd), who is a priest. When she gets word that he has allegedly committed suicide, she doesn’t buy it. So, Grace travels to the remote Scottish convent where he fell to his death, suspecting that more is at play. Greeted coldly by the nuns, it only fuels her logical fire that something is being covered up.
The more that she looks into things, the stranger things get for Grace. She’s having visions, while more violence is following her. As she discovers more about Michael’s time at the convent, Father Romero (Danny Huston) attempts to help, though the nuns appear less excited for that. It all builds to something that could have come off as silly, if not for the earnestness on display.
Jena Malone does reliably good work here, aided by a solid supporting turn from Danny Huston. Malone is in nearly every scene, doing an accent, and really lets you in to her inner turmoil. As for Huston, he keeps his cards close to the vest, resisting the urge to go big. Malone is best in show, but both are good. In addition to Steffan Cennydd, supporting players here include Thoren Ferguson, Ian Pirie, Janet Suzman, and more.
Co-writer/director Christopher Smith, along with co-writer Laurie Cook, spends as much time with the mystery and thriller elements as they do with the horror ones. They arguably overstuff Consecration a bit with ideas they can’t fully develop, but it’s definitely in service of a story that has room for more. Making sure everyone plays it straight and seriousness also works in its favor, as things easily could have gotten silly. Smith could have paced things a little bit tighter, but once the climax arrives, things happen fast and furious.
Consecration has enough here that works in order to warrant a light recommendation. It’s perhaps more of a mystery than a horror flick, but the mixture holds appeal for fans of both genres. Provided that you keep your expectations in check, outside of Malone’s turn, you’re likely to be at least moderately compelled by this one.