Consecration, a religious horror film from director Christopher Smith (Black Death, Severance), is now playing in U.S. cinemas, and the director has cited a 1960s Czech classic as his primary influence in making the movie.
In Consecration, Jena Malone stars as the sister of a deceased priest who travels to rural Scotland to investigate her brother’s suspicious death. Once there, she uncovers a conspiracy involving murder, sacrilege, and a dark history. The film co-stars Danny Huston, Janet Suzman, Ian Pirie, and Thoren Ferguson.
Director Smith co-wrote the screenplay for Consecration with Laurie Cook. In press notes for the film, Smith cites the 1967 Czech film The Valley of the Bees (Údolí včel), from director František Vláčil as his primary inspiration for making the movie.
“I had seen this amazing scene from a Czech film called The Valley of The Bees in which a Priest willingly walks backwards to a hole in the floor to his own death,” Smith recalls.
“I wondered if we could build a film around a character who, for every step back they take, a sin is forgiven.”
In an interview with Fangoria, Smith goes into further detail about The Valley of the Bees and the influence it had on him in the creation of Consecration.
“I started to look into medieval history, and I came across this movie called The Valley of the Bees, which is this amazing film about these Czech guys set in the 1400s who’ve come back from the Crusade,” the director told Fangoria.
“This man disrespects a priest, and you don’t really understand what’s going on. But he goes upstairs, and these monks are there. They all turn their back on him, and he walks backward and falls through this trap door. It wasn’t explained in the way we do it in our film, but I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
“It was kind of like a transcendental scene that felt so religious because why are they breaking the candles? Why is he falling through a trapdoor? And then, when you look down, these wild dogs are savaging him. It’s a brilliant film, The Valley of the Bees. So I thought, ‘Well, why has he done that?’ And then I came up with this idea, ‘Well, maybe for every step you take, that’s one of your sins absolved.’”
Director František Vláčil made The Valley of the Bees directly after his medieval epic Marketa Lazarová, and saved costs by reusing the costumes and props from his earlier film. Released just months after Marketa Lazarová, it suffered from comparison and received mixed reviews from local critics.
Today, however, both Marketa Lazarová and The Valley of the Bees are ranked among the best Czech films ever made. While Marketa Lazarová has earned a release on the Criterion Collection, The Valley of the Bees has yet to see a home media release in the states; it’s available on DVD in the Czech Republic and United Kingdom.
Consecration doesn’t have an official release date in the Czech Republic, but look for it to pop up on streaming services in the coming months.