Consecration: The Sacred and the Inane, by David Bax
So Christopher Smith, who has directed at least a couple of flicks with cult followings (2009’s Triangle, 2010’s Black Death), clearly wanted to take a crack at the subcategory of horror movies that play around with Catholic iconography. From The Exorcist to The Sentinel all the way to The Nun, which is getting a sequel later this year, it’s a popular strain of the genre and one of which I, as a lapsed Catholic myself, can never really get enough. By locating Consecration, his submission for acceptance into the canon, at a cliffside Scottish convent that once served as the home of a fictional, cultish prelature known as the Knights of the Morning Star, who most likely left the whole place cursed, Smith is well situated to make his mark. He comes up with some memorable stuff on occasion, to be sure, but the whole thing ultimately falls apart due to the decision to rest everything on a drastically undercooked and obvious narrative.
Reno, Nevada’s favorite daughter Jena Malone stars as an Englishwoman, accent and all, named Grace. Consecration‘s story kicks off with Grace learning that her brother, a priest, has been found dead on the grounds of the aforementioned convent of an apparent suicide. Once she arrives to identify the body, though, she senses there’s something she’s not being told and decides to hang around. Smart and skeptical are both right in Malone’s wheelhouse but the accent does continue to distract.
Oddly, Danny Huston–who grew up in the UK and remains a dual citizen–maintains his American accent as Father Romero, an emissary dispatched by the Vatican ostensibly to aid Grace in her search for truth. Romero plays it close to the vest, though, fueling intrigue as to how much he really knows and what side he’s really on. Between that and the priest’s eagerness to share the history of the Knights of the Morning Star, Huston quickly emerges as the strongest weapon in Consecration‘s arsenal.
That’s not to imply that Smith phones it in as far as the style department goes, though. Most of his impulses tend toward a very commercial brand of creepy/cool. But there are also some more inspired touches, like Malone’s reflection in a mirror making eye contact with the camera/audience.
Most of Consecration‘s more impressive visual flourishes come from Smith’s generous application of fake blood. The sisters of this order opt for all white habits, a happy coincidence, I’m sure, which turns out to be the perfect palette for bright red smears, blotches, streaks, sprays and absolute pools of viscera.
There’s a lot of very cool stuff in Consecration. But, even at only 91 minutes, it wears thin too quickly as the screenplay lazily connects the conspicuous dots along Grace’s journey.