consecration | christopher smith | laurie cook | jena malone | danny huston | ian pirie | religion | mythology | ritual | thriller | united kingdom | united states | curse | supernatural | janet suzman | steffan cennydd | eilidh fisher | thoren ferguson | victoria donovan
Director: Christopher Smith
Writers: Christopher Smith and Laurie Cook
Starring: Jena Malone, Danny Huston and Ian Pirie
This is a movie that I already have an interesting story about. When I heard it was coming out, I was stoked because I love religious based horror movies. The Gateway Film Center was getting this one and I made it a point to see it there. The power went out so I had to leave. I then went to another theater the following week. They had a power surge that stopped it for a few minutes. I did get to see it though and make it a featured review. It made me wonder if there were forces trying to stop it. I did also give this a rewatch on Shudder to see where my thoughts were for end of year.
Synopsis: after the alleged suicide of her priest brother, Grace (Jena Malone) travels to the remote Scottish convent where he fell to his death. Distrusting the Church’s account, she uncovers murder, sacrilege and a disturbing truth about herself.
Now for this one, we start with Grace as we get to know her. She is an eye doctor in the city. There is a patient that has an aggressive issue that needs to be taken care of immediately. Interspliced with this is a nun walking along the road. They pull a gun out and aim it at Grace.
She goes home for the evening where she gets devastating news. Her brother was part of a murder/suicide at a convent in Scotland, like the synopsis said. She goes up there to see the body and decides to figure out what happened. This brings her to meet Father Romero (Danny Huston) who has taken over. He seems to be hiding things when talking to Grace. There is also Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) and the other nuns there.
Her brother was Michael (Steffan Cennydd). Edited throughout are scenes from his and Grace’s childhood. It wasn’t easy as she was adopted. Their father was someone with mental illness and it caused him to harm his children. It is for this reason now that Grace has turned her back on God.
The mystery also involves this convent. The original location was on a cliff above the water. The nuns and priests believed that a relic was held within. It was supposed to have fallen into the water after an earthquake. Michael seemed to have found it though. This convent also has a ritual where you confess sins and take a step back. If you have too many, then God is supposed to catch you. There is also one last bit here, we also see images from even farther in the past where a little girl is held in a cage as she is brought to the monastery overlooking the water.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that on paper, I should love this movie. We have an isolated convent. A murder/suicide happened with Grace wanting to find the truth. There are secrets here. Mother Superior, her nuns and even Father Romero know what happened. He is having them work with DCI Harris (Thoren Ferguson), who is leading the investigation. They aren’t giving everything though. There is also the mystery of the convent and what was held inside. These are all things that in different movies have caught my attention. For whatever reason though, I have issues here.
With that set up, I did want to say that I didn’t hate this. My opening thoughts seem to say that I did. Grace trying to figure out what happened to her brother is great. I also like that their past plays back into it. I’m not sure when I was watching if things clicked, but I know for sure while compiling my thoughts, it comes together. A second watch helped shore this up as well. There are also sequences from farther in the past, I’m guessing around the time of the Crusades. This factor back into the explanation. What is interesting here, the relic draws an interesting parallel to Jesus and the corruption of the church.
I do need to go negative here though. I’ve been trying to figure out what this didn’t work for me. It seems that it might be with the editing. We get the main story we are following with Grace and her investigation. That is good, but I think my problem there is that we don’t get enough figured out. It then correlates to things with the past. Again, the pieces are there. The issue with the puzzle is that they seemed to be jammed together and not finessed to fit better. That also includes the even farther past. It could work, it just doesn’t come together just right. I’ve softened on this a bit and I think I know my problem. This doesn’t do enough to hold my interest. Knowing the reveal made the second watch even more of a slog unfortunately.
What I will say is that it isn’t the fault of the acting. Malone is great as our lead. If anything, I believe that she is a bit too abrasive. I’m not going to knock it though. If my sibling was part of something like this and I wasn’t being given the truth, I’d be rough to talk to as well. Huston is great. I love that he has smug arrogance about him where he can smooth talk you. You don’t fully trust him or what he’s saying though. That fits the role. Ian Pirie is solid as Grace’s friend of Vincent. I also like Suzman as Mother Superior. I want to like her, but there’s something about her and this convent that you can’t. Other than that, I’d say that Eilidh Fisher, Alexandra Lewis and the rest of the nuns are good. Cennydd, Ferguson and the rest of the cast also rounded this out for what was needed.
The only other things would be with filmmaking. First would be the effects. There is CGI here that I noticed. At the reveal of what happens, I’m on board. It is supposed to be a ‘demon’ as these nuns say that is influencing things around them. Most of the time, we can’t see it. There are moments where we catch a glimpse until the reveal. I love what this is and the implications there. It looks a bit off though when we see things play out initially. It isn’t a cheat so I enjoyed that. The cinematography is good. We get interesting angles and the framing gets interesting, especially with the use of mirrors. I did appreciate that. The only other thing would be the soundtrack which was fine. It fit for what was needed. There is Latin chanting that gives a good atmosphere.
In conclusion, this is one that I was excited for and I thought could be a contender for my top ten. I know that this is partially a me issue so I need to revisit this one. For whatever reason though, this didn’t work or come together like I wanted. We got a good cast. Their performances work. I love the elements of religion, mythology and how it all comes together here. It just feels clunky. The pieces don’t mesh well. I wanted to like this more than I did. After rewatching, my thoughts are the same. Knowing the reveal didn’t help this second time and if anything, hurt the pacing. I still recommend giving it a viewing as it is a solid movie regardless. I’m directing this toward fans of religious horror.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10