The prickly focus of 'Consecration,' set in an isolated Scottish convent, feels like a blank slate, albeit a self-possessed one. Maybe that's why the story's straightforward revelations end up feeling far too subdued for the holy places.
"Consecration," directed and co-written by British horror filmmaker Christopher Smith ("Black Death"), is a minimalist film that leans into the charming Scottish Highlands setting for much of its 90-minute runtime. As clues emerge, however, many questions are left answered or not, and the explanations are just vaguely creepy enough that one is left feeling like it doesn't matter.
Grace (Malone) lives a quiet life, rarely socializing outside of professional relationships. His death has been declared a murder/suicide that claimed another priest in the countryside, but she has doubts, which she fails to disclose to the handsome local detective (Thoren Ferguson) as soon as she enters the grounds of the Mount Saviour Convent, a stunning granite cathedral overlooking impressive seaside cliffs.
"Consecration" takes itself too seriously, allowing Grace to have a laugh amidst the suspense. When Grace goes in to ask why her brother's body was cleaned before it could be examined, she is told in no uncertain terms: "We live a disciplined life here, and it's lunchtime." Father Romero (the excellent Danny Huston) is much more sympathetic to Grace, although anyone familiar with priests in horror will know not to trust him either.
Grace decides to stay at the convent while an investigation is underway. One watery vision quickly leads to her drowning; her wet clothes are soon replaced by the same beige muslin habit as the nuns, and she begins to blend into the scenery. The nuns are mostly subdued until their climactic finale, often disappearing onto dark paths.
Grace's childhood memories bring her to light, revealing a much darker beginning than the adult she allows herself to disclose or even realizes. Grace's cream-colored habits deliver the most joy when exposed to blood.
"Consecration" is a tribute to an old-fashioned satanic possession thriller, and there's a certain old-school horror sensibility that goes into it. Still, a decent throwback is required.
"Consecration" will be available on VOD on Friday, February 10 and in theaters.