Review by Sean Boelman
After last month’s surprise hit in Skinamarink, IFC and Shudder are hoping to capture lightning in a bottle again with the convent horror film Consecration. Unfortunately, Christopher Smith’s movie is embarrassingly conventional, willing to settle for the bare minimum in storytelling, and relentlessly boring as a result.
The film follows a woman who travels to a remote Scottish convent after the death of her priest brother, where she begins to suspect something may have run afoul. It’s a familiar premise and setting, but horror fans are undeniably hoping that there’s something more bubbling beneath the surface. There’s not. Or, at least, what is bubbling beneath the surface isn’t particularly interesting.
The biggest problem that Consecration suffers from is that it is meant to be a mystery, but there’s nothing particularly intriguing or mysterious about it. The script has what is supposed to be a twist, but it’s about as predictable and bland of a reveal as you could think of. As such, much of our time is wasted investigating a mystery that we don’t even care about.
Worse yet, the movie doesn’t have the character development to back it up. We’re given a backstory of this woman’s harsh childhood at the hands of the church, but this is even a very generic motivation. We also don’t get much insight into the protagonist’s relationship with her brother whose death she is investigating. This could have added some very necessary emotional context.
Religion in horror is nothing new, so for a film to feel like a genuinely insightful commentary, it needs to present a perspective that is refreshing. Unfortunately, Consecration ends up saying the exact same thing that every other horror movie in existence has said about the church. It’s just frustratingly shallow and refuses to engage with its ideas.
From a technical level, the film is fine. The cinematography is solid and the production design is strong. However, the script is so docile that even a solid command of the craft is unable to give the movie a feeling of energy. Smith is clearly a gifted craftsman behind the camera, but there’s just no suspense to be found.
Jena Malone — who has shown plenty of times in the past that she is more than capable of being a compelling lead in a horror film — is surprisingly flat here. Although her character is meant to be mildly distant, the performance she gives is so overwhelmingly cold that it’s hard to care about her. Danny Huston essentially phones in his supporting performance.
Consecration is a huge letdown. Despite a talented cast and some decent production value, the script is so bland and vague that it’s hard to even get remotely interested in this story. In other words, it is disposable horror content in its most unholy form.
Consecration hits theaters on February 11.