Consecration Is Visually Stunning but the Story Drags

Consecration still of Grace (Jena Malone) in a nun's habit covered in blood with nuns kneeling behind her.

Consecration is a horror film directed by Christopher Smith and written by Smith and Laurie Cook. The story follows Grace’s (Jena Malone) trip to a convent in Scotland after she receives news of her brother’s death. Not a fan of nuns and the church, Grace tries to piece together what happened. Though there was potential, Consecration is too heavy-handed in trying and failing to build tension, leaving character by the wayside early on, making it impossible to suspend disbelief. 

After a cryptic opening with a nun pointing a gun at her, it cuts away. Next, we see Grace, an eye doctor, chatting with a patient who is losing her sight. After requesting help from a friend, Grace heads home and receives a call about her brother’s passing. Certain it was murder, Grace arrives at the convent, where her brother was a priest, searching for answers. The first nun she meets is the same nun who pointed a gun at her at the film’s start. The film’s trajectory leads up to that first moment. Yet, after watching, it’s still unclear. 

Characters in Consecration Are Lifeless

Consecration still of Father Romero (Danny Huston) standing with nuns behind him.
Consecration still of Father Romero (Danny Huston). Courtesy of IFC Films.

Before the situation escalates, there is little we learn about Grace. She’s working and seems to get along with those around her. Beyond Grace’s loss, there is next to nothing about her that makes audiences sympathize or cheer for her success. There’s a big secret with Grace at its center, but that’s not enough to hold the audience’s attention. After all, we do not know her. Grace is neither likable nor dislikable. You feel indifferent. 

Looking at Father Romero (Danny Huston) took me out of the film. But that’s because all I could think was glitterati axeman, a combo phrase from two of Huston’s previous performances. His performance does seem interchangeable with the other two. Jena Malone’s performance is heartfelt, but she’s working with nothing. Adding in Grace’s bouts of mystical sight and confusion is the primary emotion viewers have. The dialogue feels flat, along with most bits of action. 

Tension Peters Out Despite Visually Arresting Scenes

Consecration still of Grace (Jena Malone) in a nun's habit covered in blood with nuns kneeling behind her.
Consecration still of Grace (Jena Malone). Courtesy of IFC Films

As Grace pursues answers, that heavy-handed tension vanishes, leaving you adrift in boredom. You watch her walk around, read books, and have visions. Then rinse and repeat, interspersing this with flashbacks and heavy foreshadowing. There’s no surprise regarding when you learn the church’s motivation. There are no scares as the film presses on. Consecration fails to inspire engagement with this typical tale, opting for a dull slog that looks aesthetically pleasing. 

Visually, there are unique stylized moments. They don’t necessarily scare, but there is an appreciation for their appearance. The execution’s deficient timing does not hold or increase tension. Rather tension drops before these cinematic scenes. Without it, they are eye-catching shots alone instead of memorable moments that precede a scare. So they fall as flat as the Whoville character art on the church’s walls. The trailer’s visuals tempt viewers to watch. But that’s all it has to offer. 

Though the cinematography is impressive, nothing substantial justifies viewing Consecration. The answers during the climax make next to no sense. But as answers finally arrive, they are unintentionally funny. Despite the cast, something is amiss in the movie’s delivery. Tension shines briefly, then snuffs out as quickly as a match in a storm. With a 90-minute runtime, Consecration still manages to feel tortuously long, like a weight crushing you.

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