REVIEW: “Consecration” (2023)

(CLICK HERE for my full review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

The latest entry into horror’s possession sub-genre is “Consecration”, a new chiller that plays more like a supernatural mystery than a straight up horror movie. Looking at it that way works in the film’s favor considering there isn’t a single scare to be found in the movie’s lean 85-minute runtime. Unfortunately the mystery itself is never that compelling, and sticking with the story as we wait for the eventual payoff ends up being a test of patience.

What’s frustrating is that there are several cool ideas baked into “Consecration” that simply don’t come together like they could have. Directed by Christopher Smith from a script he co-wrote with producer Laurie Cook, the movie borrows all sorts of religious liturgy, symbolism, and vernacular to create its familiar yet believable sectarian setting. And Scotland’s atmospheric Isle of Skye offers some fittingly spooky yet gorgeous locations.

Image Courtesy of IFC Films

But “Consecration” lacks the engaging storyline to hold it all together. It’s bookended by a promising premise that both starts and ends in a interesting place. But it’s the sluggish middle that may have enough going on to hold your attention, but that never takes the story (or the audience for that matter) in any exciting directions. Instead it mostly sits in idle, slowing building up but ultimately teasing much more than it delivers.

Malone plays the ironically named Grace, an embittered atheist who more or less embodies the movie’s mostly cynical view of religion. A series of clunky flashbacks hint at a traumatic childhood. One marked by physical and mental abuse stemming from her father’s religious zealotry. These days she’s an eye doctor from the States who has worked hard to put her troubling past behind her. But being this is a horror movie, that proves to be easier said than done.

Grace is devastated after hearing that her brother Michael (Steffan Cennydd) has been found dead at a convent in Scotland. Michael, we learn, was a Catholic priest who was part of a devoutly rigid yet vaguely defined sect. Local police, led by DCI Harris (Thoren Ferguson), are investigating his death as a murder-suicide. They believe that Michael killed a fellow priest before taking his own life. But Grace isn’t buying it. So she flies to Scotland to identify her brother’s body and do a little investigating herself.

At the convent Grace meets the gruff and evasive Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) who claims Michael “fell into darkness”. She believes he killed himself fighting off a demon which a skeptical Grace immediately dismisses as nonsense. Then there’s Father Romero (Danny Huston) who is assigned by the Vatican to investigate the death and consecrate the convent of any residual evil. To Grace’s surprise, Father Romero pledges his full cooperation and support. Huston is such a good actor, and he craftily sells nobility while still leaving us suspicious of his character’s motives.

Image Courtesy of IFC Films

Unfortunately, he (like much of the movie) is left hanging by a script that simply doesn’t have the depth it needs. It tries to build on Grace’s backstory through the aforementioned flashbacks and a handful of semi-chilling visions that she experiences every so often. There’s also a revelation about some powerful mystical relic that the sect is after. And we get some hard to decipher references to a cult (I think) with connections (again, I think) to the ruins of an old chapel on a cliff. But again, none of that stuff gets the attention or the detail needed for us to really care.

Some of this may be easy to look past if the movie was remotely scary. Sadly, it’s not. It takes a few cheap swings, but none of it is chilling or unsettling which only highlights the film’s more glaring issues. Thankfully, Smith keeps things short and sweet. But actually, this is a movie that could have used another 20 minutes or so. Maybe with a little more time spent on fleshing out its story, “Consecration” could have been the movie it teases rather than the movie it ends up being. “Consecration” opens in theaters today (February 10th).


12 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Consecration” (2023)

  1. I only want to see this because of THE BEST IN THE WORLD who continuously gets overlooked in comparison to other actresses. I’m still upset that she did Stardust as I refuse to watch that film.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s