An ophthalmologist living and working in London, the distance between Grace and her brother Michael could not be more pronounced, he a priest at the Mount Saviour Convent on the Isle of Skye off the north coast of Scotland whose body has been found on the rocks below the ruined chapel where he leapt to his death after murdering another member of the order, but travelling by ferry and through the winding hills to identify the body Grace is not convinced by the story she is told.

Warned by investigating officer DCI Harris that they are “an extreme sect,” the Mother Superior tells Grace that her brother was much liked “before he fell to darkness” but neglects to mention that Michael’s body was washed before the autopsy, removing forensic evidence, while Father Romero, visiting from the Vatican for a reconsecration service with suspiciously convenient timing and knowledge on the history of the convent, offers platitudes rather than answers.

Consecration; whatever answers Father Romero (Danny Huston) holds are not for the ears of outsiders.

A return to FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival for director Christopher Smith where Detour screened in 2017 after circumstances demanded The Banishing of 2020 was conducted remotely, Consecration is a religious horror which stars The Neon Demon’s Jena Malone as Grace and The Congress‘ Danny Huston as Father Romero with Janet Suzman as Mother Superior and Thoren Ferguson as Officer Harris, aware of the discrepancies in the account given but also conscious that the Vatican have the authority to bar the police from the site and block the investigation.

For the most part restrained as befits a film set beneath whitewashed vaulted ceilings and within darkened crypts where secrets are whispered, Consecration treads softly so as to avoid stepping into the borders of nunsploitation, its transgressions of a different nature as Grace finds herself amongst cloistered women whose own dysfunctions manifest inexplicably, one sister having gouged out her own eye after glimpsing the devil.

Consecration; the nuns circle silently in the grounds of the Mount Saviour Convent.

Grace’s childhood having pushed her away from the church even as Michael was drawn to it, she is unswayed by the genial disposition of Father Romero who presents a public face behind which lies an unassailable buttress of the Catholic Church, a soft-spoken but unshakeable devotion to his faith and the sacrifices it demands, the promise that “God will catch you” of little comfort to those who are falling on rocks in repentance for their sins.

Filled with mirrors which do not always reflect the truth and glimpses of Grace’s traumatic past and that of the holy site which once held a relic, lost when an earthquake tumbled it into the waves, Consecration rises to a plateau rather than a dramatic crescendo as though fearful of breaking the atmosphere of oppression which permeates the air, perhaps not ascending to the plane of The Exorcist but certainly attaining a position from where it can comfortably look down upon the hysteria of The Heretic.

The Glasgow Film Festival has now concluded

Consecration; the convent to be reconsecrated, it is a ceremony of blood and sacrifice at which Grace (Jena Malone) plays a central part.



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