Monday, January 17, 2011

The Church (1989)

So, in the general spirit of thing, when Miss Stacie Ponder over at Final Girl announced that The Church was going to be the new film for Final Girl Film Club I decided to show my individualism by promptly hopping my spooky bum onto the bandwagon. Hush you, hush.

The trouble is, I watched said film club movie and then went "Wow ... what the Hell am I even going to say about this?"

What indeed, my darling Spooky Do's?

I've had almost 48 hours to digest this movie and I still have no idea what the hell it was I watched. I think the big problem was that it was a Dario Argento film, in the truest sense.

Now, you might be saying "But Spooky! Isn't Suspiria one of your favorite horror movies EVER?", and you're not wrong random person I don't know, it is. However, I think I may have been truly spoiled by the fact that Suspiria was my first Argento film. So, of course, I saw it, I adored it, I decided I needed to try and get my sugary little hands on as much more Argento as I could.

I mean, if the man was capable of the masterpiece that is Suspiria, his other works must be great too! Right?

After spending one of my coveted "apartment to myself" weekends watching such examples of his films as Deep Red and Opera, I can safely say that, no, no this isn't the case at all.

Argento somehow stumbled onto something beautiful and awe-inspiring with Suspiria, and true to the old adage, lightening didn't strike the same place twice. His other films struck me as largely plotless jumbles, with some occasional jarring music thrown in, and liberal amounts of thick, almost play-doh looking blood. Yes, he has a good eye, and yes each of his films has instances of absolutely gorgeous cinematography and framing, but if you remember my review of Parasomnia, you'll recall my sentiment that just making the movie pretty won't necessarily make me able to sit through it.

And I'm sorry to say, like the other aforementioned films, I found The Church to be much like that.

Okay, well here's the part where I try to explain the thin amount of plot that there was. Because, really kids, I did just feel like this was one huge jumble of "WHAT??? WHAT??? WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?".

All right, here we go. So we start out with a bunch of knights who have apparently tracked down a village of witches? Maybe? This doesn't really get explained. One of the village girls offers the leader of the knights water, and he freaks the Hell out because it's tap and he only drinks imported bottled water from the Swiss Alps.

So him and all his apeshit knight friends kill the whole village, and throw them in a giant hole. Then one of the lead knight's advisers has the AMAZING (and by amazing, I mean incredibly stupid), that the only way to purify the land that this den of sin was they have to build a church right on top of it.

I don't get the logic, but hey I wasn't a bat-shit crazy person in the middle ages.

Also, I really felt like at some point it was just going to degenerate into the Spanish Inquisition.

But Monty Python may possibly have been too culturally accurate for this film. I'll let you take minute to soak that idea up.

Moving right along...

We cut to "modern times", or at least the eighties, and the titular church that was built atop the bodies of the non-Evian drinking hippies that the knights slaughtered.

The amazing Plastic Librarian, a.k.a Evan I-don't-have-a-last-name is starting his first day of work cataloging at the church. He seriously looks like a kind of deranged Ken doll. En route a girl restoring a fresco drops her art supplies on his head, so he asks her out.

This is my flirtation method too kids, someone throws things at me and I think "HOT DAMN!" Obviously, Evan, like me, still assumes that the romantic world still operates like it did in Elementary school and you have to wait for someone to hurl something at you before you can tell whether or not they like you.

Evan then makes his way to the library, where he meets Lottie, played by Asia Argento, Dario Argento's daughter, because for some reason he likes to cast her in really uncomfortable roles, all things considered. Lottie lives in the church because her father does ... something. He's a Sacristan? I'm afraid I'm showing my ignorance because I had NO IDEA what that was, but hey, whatever, I don't imagine it's going to come up much.

Evan ends up uncovering a text that promises him eternal life if he unlocks something beneath a stone with seven eyes. This, obviously, is going to end well. Because, apparently, under the stone is Argento's version of Whedon's Hellmouth.

yes, I know this pre-dates Buffy, but Buffy is A LOT better, so therefore I am going to give Joss the props here

So Evan unlocks the evil door, and get possessed.... I think. Or he just decides to be a pedophilic rape fiend for the fun of it. I don't know. The man is weird. But this is a little strange, because you really got the feeling that the film was going to be about Evan with-no-last-name, and the art supply throwing girl. But apparently Evan is just there to be a sweaty perverted device to move the film along.

Apparently, and I'm as shocked as you are here, the real main characters in The Church are Lottie, and Father Gus, the black priest and ONLY ATTRACTIVE MAN IN THE WHOLE MOVIE. I am supposing that the reason behind this is that him and Lottie are supposed to be examples of untainted good in the face of the evil leaking out of the hole under the church.

That's a bit confusing though. You know next to nothing about Father Gus, other than that he likes archery, and has really strange visions about a sprinting, dwarf version, of one of the extra's from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But okay, he's a priest, he gets some slack. But Lottie? The child is like twelve, and she sneaks out every night to do drinking, dancing, and I'm sure whoring. I'm pretty confused on why she should be a moral compass. But hey, what do I know, I didn't write this movie. Obviously, if I did it would star Eli Roth and Benedict Cumberbatch. Like all movies I would make.

Apparently when the church was created, it was made with some sort of self destruct function that would activate if the evil within the church were released. Well, that kicks off, and the church seals itself up. This traps all aforementioned people, as well as a bunch of kids on a field trip, a biker couple, a film crew doing a modeling shoot, and an old couple inside the church.

So then comes the choice; either activate the "kill switch" and destroy the church so that the evil doesn't destroy the outside world, or let it take its course, and it'll probably wipe out everything on earth.

While this pot is boiling, everyone in the church starts being effected by the evil and essentially going balls crazy. And here's where any sort of sane plot we might have had put up its hands and walked away in defeat.

Because from here on out, it's people hallucinating, stabbing other people with gate partitions, molesting each other, decapitating their spouses, and performing candlit satanic rites in the nude.

Is my earlier assessment of "What the Hell even just happened here?" beginning to make some sense?

I think my brain kind of checked out somewhere between the bizarre plastic-wrapped orgy and the man hallucinating that there is a giant fish trying to eat his face.

Like I said before:


Dear God on a tuna melt, what was this all even about?

I don't know, I really just .... ack. I don't know at all.

But, like I said before it is pretty to look at. So, in fact, when I was going back to screencap it, and I just had my iTunes on, and the movie audio on mute it wasn't all that bad. While Argento misses the mark with a fair amount of things, the man knows how to set up a film so that it looks like a piece of art.

Usually I can sit down and figure out the message behind a horror film. Because they are a common used medium for such a thing. Look at the Romero zombie films and how full of social commentary they were, or even the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or films like Kairo and Suicide Circle which reflect Japan's concern with the increasing lack of connection the country's youth possesses with itself as well as as a whole.

If The Church had any sort of a message I will be damned if I could decipher it.

I'm not going to lie, I think I've run out of everything I can say about this movie other than just tons and tons of ellipses indicating awkward pauses as I open and close my mouth trying to figure out what to say about the damn thing.

I guess it's not a terrible movie, and if you wanted to put on your favorite CD and just have something to stare at, some of the visuals are pretty hypnotic, so that might not be a bad day.

But this girl's head still hurts from how much she was scratching it after watching this one. I'm going to have to go catch up on Dexter now or something to get rid of the weird taste that The Church left behind.

So, until next time,

Hugs and kisses kiddies, and stay in school

Spooky Pie


  1. So which is worse: how crazy the plot is, or the fact that I still want to see it after reading about how crazy the plot is? Hehe. Nice review, it has made me strangely entranced by this movie.

  2. Hahahahahaha, wow, I'm going to just say that it must be the old train wreck theory. I know that there have been times when people have been like

    "this freaking movie was terrible and it made no sense!"

    and I was like "SIGN ME UP!" so I don't that I can really fault you on that.

  3. I reviewed this as well, and yes it's too easy to make monty python jokes at the beginning of this film. Just too, too easy. like Joel and the bots would be like shooting not fish in a barrel but just the barrel.

    Lazarus Lupin
    art and review