Jena Malone Says She Didn’t Know What the ‘F’ Was Going on in Consecration
Feb 8, 2023
A nun holds a crucifix, then notices her palm scarred. A body falls off a cliff. Elsewhere, a flock of nuns, eerily clad in white, walk counterclockwise in a circle in the garden. Swear to God—Consecration is high on the creep factor. The new horror/thriller, which also stars Danny Huston (Yellowstone, The Aviator, Marlowe), from director Christopher Smith, hits theaters on February 10.
Hunger Games and Goliath alum Jena Malone is at the helm of this gripping ride, playing Grace, a woman rattled by the mysterious death of her brother, a priest. Grace heads to the Mount Saviour Convent in Scotland to find out what really went down. Hopeful yet befuddled, she soon uncovers murder, a ton of sacrilege, and the disturbing truth about her own past.
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“I just loved being in this movie, and I didn’t really know what the ‘F’ was going on,” Malone beamed about the film. “Ever since I was a teenager, starting with Donnie Darko, I wanted a script that was going to make me feel like a kid, where I’m going back to page 14 and rereading something. I loved that Consecration was such a simple story, but it had so many layers.”
Expect plenty of plot twists along the way in Consecration, of course, which Malone and Smith break down.
The Director’s Vision
Smith is no stranger to the horror genre. The popular British filmmaker turned heads back in 2004 with Creep, a horror film about a woman trapped in the London underground while hunted by a mysterious attacker. He’d go on to direct the thriller Black Death in 2010 (starring Eddie Redmayne and Sean Bean) and generated buzz with Get Santa, which he wrote and directed—the film starred Jim Broadbent. Smith is also focusing on television projects—from Sony’s reboot of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider.
Of Consecration, he said he started writing the script early on, but in terms of some of the core themes of the story, he admitted he’s always been interested in religion and the supernatural, and how that’s presented. He noted that he and the crew never talk about the film being “supernatural,” from the onset, but the curiosity was there.
“If you look at the idea of miracles… the idea of bringing someone back from the dead, and all these elements I was interested in, if presented properly, it could very compelling,” Smith said. “For instance, if you don’t make the film from an atheist standpoint, but question what would happen if somebody was a second coming. What would happen if you found that person, how would that person be received?”
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Smith went on to say that people are typically interested in that subject—people who are devout on any subject.
“My interest in the film was to try and tell a story that treated religion really seriously but also raised the idea of somebody having powers,” he added. “What if this Jim Jones character had the ability to do things? In the past, they would have immediately been called a witch. And what if she’s a ‘good person,’ who’s raising those questions? How would the church and society look at her? That was kind of what intrigued me about the story.”
He went on to say he was “very keen” on the idea of a secular girl with a very religious brother. “As Jenna was saying, all human beings, whether you’re religious or not, it’s in our DNA to look for questions for things we cannot understand. I wanted this film to not cheaply use religion to give you scares, but to actually say, ‘why is it when I walk into a church or synagogue, or whatever, that I feel something? What is that I feel in those walls?’”
The Actor’s Challenge
Expect to see Malone go through the horror-thriller ringer in Consecration. The film is haunting and full of twists—and there’s plenty of blood.
“As an actor, or just a storyteller, you start frothing at the mouth with something like this, because you can dive in deeply,” Malone said. “The funniest part for me, besides getting to know Christopher, who is an amazing director and writer, was asking him a trillion questions and trying to track the film and figure out how we could make a particular moment clearer. Or, if we needed to conceal more here or there. And what happens if this ‘power’ is interpreted this way. I loved diving into the questions of it all.”
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Admittedly, Malone was fascinated with the story, which finds her character attempting to uncover her brother’s death—with an ever-ominous Danny Huston close by—then finding herself shocked about what she uncovers from the past.
“Religion is the seed of storytelling, right? I mean, even pre-Christianity and Catholicism, and pre-paganism. We look out, and we ask questions, and those questions demand answers,” Malone said. “It’s really beautiful to explore religion with questions of the supernatural; questions of good and evil. That will never be a story we’re not interested in.”
She was also jazzed about stepping more deeply into this genre of storytelling. “I mean, thriller/horror is a very encompassing genre. But we know going in that something’s going to be disturbed,” she added. “This is not a family film or a rom-com. And it’s funny how religious films tend to be more ‘thriller/horror,’ and harder to understand because we still have so many questions that are unanswered. I think we’ll always be asking those questions.”
Consecration, from IFC Films and Shudder, hits theaters on February 10.
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