Jena Malone Anchors Compelling, Uneven Religious Horror

Mar 4, 2023

Home Movie Reviews Consecration Review: Jena Malone Anchors Compelling, Uneven Religious Horror

As bloodied and haunted as it gets, Consecration is a somewhat satisfying journey because Smith and Cook’s script understands Grace is the anchor.

Jena Malone in Consecration

Christopher Smith’s Consecration has a plot that one could deem simple, but simple narratives are deceptively hard to pull off in horror. Smith and Laurie Cook’s script is layered with a mystery intertwined with supernatural and psychological drama. Their story is ambitiously attempting to tackle the darkness that surrounds the Church and exists within its characters. Unforgiving nuns and suspicious priests aren’t things that exist solely in horror, but Smith & Cook certainly lean into the unholy mythology of the Church that has been building for ages within the genre as well as real life. Ultimately, the tale is about one woman’s mission for the truth. As bloodied and haunted as Jena Malone’s character gets, Consecration is a somewhat satisfying journey because Smith and Cook’s script understands Grace is the anchor.

The film follows Grace (Jena Malone), an optometrist who identifies as an atheist. While she favors science and logic, her brother turned to religion to become a priest in a Scottish convent. When her brother seemingly commits suicide, Grace is compelled by her skepticism and dark visions to investigate his death, only to be met with resistance by the cold and cult-like behavior of the nuns. Evasiveness and distrust arise as tactics, but Grace will find that there is something very unholy at work.

Related: Consecration Clip Sees A Religious Debate Over Jena Malone’s Fate [EXCLUSIVE]

Jena Malone in Consecration

Malone is an actress who has shunned popular trends and opted for smaller, interesting projects that challenge her rather than propel her to super stardom. After her turn in blockbusters such as Sucker Punch and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, her path seemed set, but years later she’s back with an under-the-radar title. Consecration does well enough to solidify its scathing message on the Church without losing sight of the personal journey Grace embarks on. Malone is bold and effective as the lead, with a performance that asks her to be a vulnerable sister, a skeptic, a detective, and the traditional woman trapped in a sinister game. Despite a shaky accent – shocking, considering her stellar accent in Pride & Prejudice – Malone offers a sturdy and compelling performance that keeps audiences engaged throughout the nearly two-hour runtime.

On paper, the film is complex, engaging, and deeply troubling. However, the technical execution is lacking. There are a few good scares, but Smith can’t quite capture the story’s terror beyond Rob Hart and Shaun Mone’s grim and spooky cinematography. The tactics deployed are a bit too basic for a story as ambitious as this. However, a few of Smith’s camera techniques perfectly capture the dread and anxiety of Grace’s journey perfectly. There is some evidence that Smith is referencing horror history, but that rarely improves the film and is merely just an interesting detail. The runtime could have been trimmed to tighten the story, giving it a brisk pace, which could have also helped the sense of danger in Grace’s story.

Danny Huston in Consecration

Consecration is not a total miss, but the ineffective scares bring down the enjoyment. Momentum is quickly lost throughout the movie. Despite a very compelling setup that blends the supernatural horror and the genuine villainous nature of the Church, Consecration doesn’t quite find its footing. An eerie atmosphere and a strong lead performance can carry the movie far enough until it deflates under the pressure of expectations. If viewers are interested in a new horror, Consecration is hardly a waste, but in the pantheon of Church-based horrors, it doesn’t rank too high.

Next: Knock At The Cabin Review: Shyamalan Delivers Thought-Provoking, Intense Horror

Consecration opened in theaters on Friday, February 10. It is 90 minutes long and rated R for action/violence throughout and brief language.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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