Director Christopher Smith (Triangle, The Banishing) co-wrote the script with Laurie Cook (Triangle, Alien Outpost) for Consecration, a horror/thriller film that I found to be more thriller than horror. Yes, there is horror, but not as much as what I had anticipated from watching the trailer. Bloody, yes, but not from heavy gore as seen in other films. As is noted in the synopsis of this film, the protagonist, Grace (Jena Malone) travels to Mount Saviour Convent in Scotland after called about her priest brother, Michael (Steffan Cennydd). He has passed away and she has her suspicions about the cause of his death. As she probes deeper, she uncovers more than expected, including memories of her past.

The opening scene has a nun walking along a street and starts to walk toward Grace, presumably in the town where she works/lives. The scene abruptly flashes elsewhere. Viewers see Grace at work as an eye doctor, as well as in her apartment working on her computer. The lights go out, noises are heard, (the usual). There seems to be an apparition briefly and then she receives the call about her brother.

This may be confusing for some viewers as the filmmakers try to establish who Grace is and what she does. There is no doubt that she is strong, independent and is determined to find out what is behind her brother’s death. She meets with the local police detective working the case, DCI Harris (Thoren Ferguson). He informs Grace that since the death is at the seaside convent, the Vatican sends their own representative/investigator, Father Romero (Danny Huston).

Mother Superior (Janet Suzman) sternly rules the convent and despite what she tells the police, both the detective and Grace have their doubts – but the detective is limited in pursuing. Grace remains at the convent and investigates what she can, although the other nuns are limited in what they can say/do regarding Grace’s inquiries. Father Romero appears to be willing to share information by way of Michael’s belongings, some antique books, etc. but there are other conversations and mannerisms that leave enough doubt about the sincerity of his helpfulness. Watching Mother Superior rule over the nuns and try to control Grace is enough to give someone nightmares, or at least insomnia. Great acting!

Something that is unsettling for me in the film are the flashbacks Grace has while she searches for clues about her brother. The siblings and their mother had a horrific childhood at the hands of their head of household/father. Those scenes are hard to watch as that monster hides behind religion to rule them.

There are interesting elements of the supernatural in the film and Grace has flashbacks to a bygone era that seem to connect with her current situation, including visions of death. I find the scenes a bit lacking. I want more about the past leading to the present. This leaves me wondering if there are scenes edited out, or intentionally vague to create a prequel about the past life. To say more will lead to spoilers.

Rated R. Bloody, violent content and some language. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

Consecration opens Friday, Feb. 10, in theaters nationwide.

Source: IFC Films and Shudder

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