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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell J.

Consecration (2023) Unleashes Religious Horrors in Scottish Countryside

Title: Consecration

First Non-Festival Release: February 9, 2023 (Theatrical Release)

Director: Christopher Smith

Writer: Christopher Smith, Lauire Cook

Runtime: 91 Minutes

Starring: Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Janet Suzman

Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here

For those harmed by faith, finding the road to forgiveness can be difficult. It’s even harder when the trauma of religion destroys one’s faith entirely. Some can re-discover their path while others push further away. No path is wrong, just different.

After receiving the devastating news of her brother’s suicide, Grace (Jena Malone) rushes to a remote convent in the middle of the Scottish countryside and faces this exact challenge. She hopes to confront those she believes responsible for her brother’s death, what she calls murder. Despite no evidence and the iron-clad yet seemingly sympathetic resistance of the sisters, Grace investigates further to see what she secrets she can uncover in the institution she despises.

Consecration twists the narrative on Catholic horror in a deliciously brutal and philosophical manner.

Science and faith have always clashed in some capacity, especially in religious based horror films. Consecration is no different. Grace is an ardent skeptic who refuses to believe anything the church says. She knows her brother was murdered and she just wants to get vengeance against those she believe responsible for that while also seeking justice for her own childhood trauma.

While faith is forced on her, Consecration is not a film that rewards that behavior, which makes it a nice deviation from films that prop up that the resolve of faith is the only way to fight darkness. It also does a nice job of reimagining darkness. Faith based horror in Western society tends to fall into a trap of overplaying the same derivative stories with repeated messages of Christian ideals. Consecration switches up its narrative, moving away from the real and imagined ghosts of Christianity’s past and looking toward its future in the modern world.

Grace’s journey of finding herself and rediscovering her beliefs makes for a compelling arc that doesn’t deceive her character. Riddled with a traumatizing past, Grace faces the horrors of losing her brother to the darkness that surrounds the convent as well as Grace. Her childhood trauma amplified with the religious abuse she endured results in Grace seeing the world in such a black and white mentality. Faith means nothing to her, as it has only brought her misery. It isn’t until the layers of her backstory are revealed, and she is confronted with the terrible truth about herself that we understand why.

Much like its subversion of Catholic horror tropes, Consecration dares to take a different stance than most of its contemporaries would make. Instead of scolding Grace for her lack of faith, Consecration emphasizes the power in her journey of self-discovery. From her abusive father to the secretive and deceptive members of the convent, Grace has very few positive impressions of religion outside her brother. Shattered by his loss, Grace spirals while still hoping the answers she needs to move on are in the very place she despises. While Consecration dips into the standard subgenre imagery and progression into its display of the macabre, its vessel of horror is unique in its place in the story.

Perhaps the one weakness of Consecration is its need to overplay its cards and tell the audience way too much. There is quite a large amount of handholding in the script which feels unnecessary at times. Its overreliance on exposition and flashback sequences makes it hard to fully stay invested in the story despite its interesting take on possession. While its lore is intriguing, Consecration finds itself falling into the trap of digging deeper into the world it creates without taking time to manage its rapidly convoluted story. It works in the end, but some strategic culling could do wonders.

It won’t be for everyone, but Consecration does a solid job of creating a creepy, atmospheric horror jaunt while delivering a new bent on Catholic horror. Anchored by Jena Malone’s great performance and Grace’s compelling character arc, Consecration makes up for its overly complicated story and reliance on tired subgenre beats. If anything, those who are hoping to avoid yet another cut-and-paste exorcism movie, will find hope in Consecration. All others, may need to seek salvation elsewhere.

Overall Score? 7/10

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