The Movie Waffler First Look Review - CONSECRATION | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - CONSECRATION

Consecration review
A woman travels to a remote Scottish convent to investigate her brother's death.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Christopher Smith

Starring: Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Dame Janet Suzman, Thoren Ferguson

Consecration poster

In 2022 Scotland issued a formal apology to the more than 4,000 people, predominantly women, accused of practicing witchcraft, over 2,500 of whom were executed for the crime. The news was met with derision by many, but if other crimes from centuries past require formal apologies then why not this one? Perhaps it's because horror fiction has perpetuated the myth of the evil witch, the cackling hag with a black cat, broomstick and cauldron in which she boils good Christian children. Of course, witches never really existed, at least not in that form. Director Christopher Smith's Scottish-set horror Consecration is the latest movie that asks us to believe in witchcraft, but there's little in the way of magic on display.

Consecration review

On-the-nose named London-based eye doctor Grace (Jena Malone) has a creepy experience in her apartment one night when the lights go out and a mysterious figure appears to be lurking in the hallway. It's at the same moment that she receives a phone call from Scotland informing her that her brother has died following a murder-suicide at the remote convent where he's been practicing the priesthood. Unwilling to believe her brother capable of such a thing, Grace travels to Scotland where she finds a cult of nuns that make Opus Dei look like Anglicans in their hardcore interpretation of Catholicism.

Initially the film seems to take the side of the vehemently atheistic Grace. This is largely achieved by how dodgy the nuns are painted, along with an outwardly kindly but not quite right priest played by Danny Huston, an actor you don’t hire if you don’t wish to make the audience suspect he's up to no good. As the narrative progresses we behin to doubt just who is the antagonist here as flashbacks reveal Grace's murky backstory, which somehow seems to relate to an incident from the middle ages.

Consecration review

Consecration is part of a growing trend of horror movies that seem more concerned with laying the ground for a final act reveal than in building suspense and springing scares on the viewer. The plot here is so muddled that I'm not entirely sure I came away from the movie with the correct interpretation of a resolution that I'm still struggling to make sense of. There's an awful lot of plot and very little atmosphere, despite the film's great Isle of Skye location and some beautiful production design (the convent wouldn't be out of place in a classic Universal horror). Attempts to generate scares too often fall back on tired tropes like the figure glimpsed in the mirror and shocks revealed to simply be products of Grace's potentially damaged psyche. Much of the narrative follows that of a police procedural, with Grace burying her nose in crusty old books and snooping around the darkest corners of the convent (despite their mistrust of Grace, the  nuns don’t seem all that bothered by her wandering around).

Consecration review

Malone is one of the most watchable American actresses of her generation, but her performance here wavers between two modes – confused and angry. With so much about Grace concealed throughout the film, Malone struggles to make the character three dimensional, resulting in an unappealing and unengaging protagonist. Still, anyone who attended Catholic school may find enough relatable creepiness in the setting, but for a convent-based horror it's nun too scary.

 is in US cinemas from February 10th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

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