Blessed be the curse
Welcome to Knockout Horror and to a Horror Movie Review. Today we are taking a look at religious themed Supernatural Horror Consecration. This movie arrived earlier this year as a Shudder original and stars Jena Malone.
Let’s be real. Supernatural Religious horror movies tend to be one of two things. Creepy, captivating and incredibly effective. Or extremely slow paced, boring and full of recycled ideas. The big question is, where does Consecration fall in that equation? Well, the bad news is that it isn’t particularly captivating. It certainly isn’t creepy and I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is effective. What it is, however, is somewhat adventurous in its approach to the genre.
Taking concepts from director Christopher Smith’s earlier movies. And attempting to weave them into what is a tried and tested horror formula. Consecration takes a few risks to set itself apart. Hoping to leave the viewer with a sense of shock as the ending credits roll. It’s hard not to question whether the approach works. And whether the time would have been better spent crafting a more interesting story.
Following the story of Grace. Consecration starts with her hearing about the death of her brother. A deeply religious man, he had been spending time at a convent. His time there came to an end when he was found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Suspected to have committed suicide. Grace is shocked to find out he was also a suspect in a murder. Determined to find out what happened. Grace heads to the Isle of Skye, in Scotland, to uncover the mystery of his death.
So the very plot of Consecration, alone, gives you a pretty decent insight into what to expect. A woman spends time at a convent. Nuns who have been sworn to secrecy keep a dark secret. Woman tries to uncover secret, all while learning things about herself she never knew. It’s fairly run of the mill stuff. Consecration doesn’t stray too far from the well beaten Religious horror path.
In fact, for the majority of its length. Consecration offers a distinct sense of Deja-vu. Religious iconography accents almost every shot. Latin hymns provide the score for many of the scenes. A Vatican assigned Father frequently interjects for story exposition. It’s all extremely familiar. Even Grace’s strained relationship with God feels like an overly recycled element. Her disdain for prayers and religion frequently used to cause conflict.
It is due to Consecration’s lack of a innovation that it struggles to hold a viewer’s focus. This is a plain and simple Religious horror. There isn’t anything new here and there is very little to hold onto. By the time the movie opens up and shows some innovation. It is likely the viewer will have long since lost interest.
A wave of similar horror movies in the past 20 years don’t help. This is a theme that has become somewhat threadbare for its overuse in horror. Still, there is a market for this type of thing. The setting is one that horror viewers are comfortable with. Let’s not forget. There is a lot to be said for knowing what to expect from a movie.
Something that may stand out with Consecration is its lack of scares. For the vast majority of its length. It feels like something of a mystery thriller. It is quick to push aside themes of the supernatural. Instead keen to engage in the mystery surrounding the death of Grace’s brother. Incidentally, this is the place where the movie feels strongest. The strange circumstances surrounding the murder suicide. And the bizarre actions of the nuns connected to it. Are the main elements of the movie that provoke interest.
There is a genuine desire to find out what is going on. Making it quite easy to forget that you are watching something marketed as a horror movie. This isn’t religious horror in the sense of The Exorcist or similar. The horror elements are pushed far off to the side. Despite the similar themes and the all too familiar presentation. You aren’t going to see floating spectres and hideous demons here. That is not what Consecration is about.
Consecration is barely a horror movie. I think this is something that needs to be pointed out. I imagine it is very easy for a viewer to feel a little short changed by Consecration. Like they have been duped into watching something that is horror adjacent at best. The themes of the supernatural make their way to the forefront toward the end. But they are not the primary focus here. Marketing Consecration as a horror is a big misstep. If you are going into expecting horror, you will likely be disappointed.
The ending does deserve praise for attempting to do something a little different. Christopher Smith is someone who enjoys playing around with continuity. It is something that has taken centre stage in his previous films. With Consecration, he aims to keep the viewer off base. Throwing them to the future before taking them to the past and then back again. It’s slightly disorientating but plays heavily into the ending. An ending that finally offers the movie a chance to feel a little different. A little more daring and a little more innovative than your average religious horror.
It does beg the question, though. Was it worth it? I can’t help but think that the ending feels like something of a hail Mary. (No pun intended). While watching events play out. I had a nagging sense of disappointment. As if more time should have been spent putting more thought into the actual plot. Creating a few more scares and doing more to unsettle the viewer. It’s all well and good pulling the rug from under the viewer’s feet. But by the time the ending rolled around. I was no longer invested and didn’t particularly care.
This isn’t helped by the the ending offering an unsatisfactory explanation for events. Much of what the ending alludes to doesn’t make a great deal of sense. There are a whole bunch of plot holes and little in the way of expanding on what takes place. It feels incredibly half baked and, to be frank, a bit tacked on. I actually chuckled at a few of the scenes. They felt a little on the silly side. Especially given the way they were presented.
The fact of the matter is, however. Without the ending. Consecration is a slow moving, rather boring religious horror with little to say. It doesn’t doing anything particularly new. It has limited scares. Isn’t particularly unsettling and doesn’t do a great deal to keep the viewer engaged. If you don’t find yourself interested in the murder mystery. There isn’t much to take from this movie.
That, of course, doesn’t mean it is bad. If you are a big fan of religious horror. You are probably expecting and desiring something slow burning. You probably have a high tolerance for limited scares and are more drawn in by the theme. If that is the case, you may find plenty to like. Religion does take centre stage here for the most part. So if nuns and priests are what you are looking for in your horror. You should have plenty to enjoy.
Consecration is an absolutely beautiful movie. It’s one of those films that you can find enjoyment in purely from how it looks. The movie opens with some simple but fantastic indoor shots. Cleverly utilising space to make corridors feel endless. Leading Grace down a hallway before turning to face a mirror. Seamlessly and with no reflection. It is incredibly skilful camera work and easy to marvel at. As the film opens up to outdoor shots of the gorgeous Scottish scenery. It’s impossible not to be blown away.
Silky smooth drone work captures the hills in incredible clarity. A beautiful shot of the sun setting over the water introduces us to the highlands themselves. It is glorious. The amazing camerawork never lets up throughout. All aided beautifully by the landscape and the incredible filming locations. Consecration is gorgeous and, at times, a joy to behold. The picture does suffer for being a little too dark towards the middle.
I imagine I will get crucified for this (another pun!). But the well loved Jena Malone is pretty bad here. Sorry guys, I know she is really well liked. But I honestly felt she was the weakest part of the movie. Her accent is terrible. Fluttering between English, American, Scottish and I don’t know what. Randomly throughout the film. She is often wooden and struggles to emote. I didn’t feel this role suited her at all. The dramatic ending suffers particularly for some of her odd facial expressions. Again, she is a decent actor. I am well aware of this. She just didn’t fit this role well at all.
I enjoyed Danny Huston as Father Romero. He doesn’t tend to oversell the performance. Something that seems all too common with men playing priests in horror movies. Janet Suzman was decent as Mother Superior. Putting in a suitably warm but slightly sinister performance as the head of the convent. Thoren Ferguson was fine as Detective Harris. Feeling very much like the fish out of water cop that he is. Given everything that is going on around him. The cast was generally fine with the exception of Malone. As I said above, I hate to say it.
While I can’t describe Consecration as a Knockout Horror Movie. It’s really not bad. It just doesn’t do much new with an overly familiar formula. It attempts to mix up the rather stagnant religious supernatural horror genre. Offering an ending that is somewhat fresh and fairly innovative. In doing so, however, it falls into the same pitfalls as many other religious horror movies.
Consecration feels extremely similar to other movies that follow this formula. It is light on scares, isn’t particularly unsettling and walks an overly well tread path. While gorgeous for much of its length and full of stunning locations. It just doesn’t bring all that much to the table. A difficult recommend for people who dislike slow burn horror. Even fans of religious supernatural horror may find the movie a little bit lacking. Still, if you are looking for something to scratch that religious itch. Consecration may just fit the bill.