Blu-ray Review: THE CHURCH

THE CHURCH is co-produced and co-written by Dario Argento and directed by Argento protégé Michele Soavi. The film stars Tomas Arana, Asia Argento, Hugh Quarshie,  Barbara Cupisiti, Antonella Vitale and Feodor Chaliapin Jr. The Church is notable for its evocative soundtrack, composed by the late, great progressive rock musician Keith Emerson, minimalist virtuoso Philip Glass, and the Italian prog-rock band Goblin, who previously collaborated with  Argento on his films Suspiria and Tenebre.

THE CHURCH is set in present-day Germany in an elaborate medieval cathedral that was once the site of a massacre of a village of supposed devil-worshippers by a band of crusading knights. When the church’s new librarian (Tomas Arana, The Sect) breaks the seal of the building’s crypt, he releases a cabal of evil spirits that are contained beneath it.  At the same time, the church’s automated mechanisms are triggered, causing its doors to close and trapping everyone inside. The laws of reality soon collapse as a nightmare takes hold and claims the lives of those within one by one, threatening to unleash a supernatural pestilence upon the world!

The opening scene for The Church takes place in Medieval times and shows a massacre take place where some knights bury a group of people accused of devil worshipping and demonic possession. A cathedral is built on top of the burial site and then the movie fast forwards to present day. There’s Lisa (Barbara Cupisti) who is inside the old church doing some escavating and she’s the one who makes some of the first discoveries that lead to the supernatural awakening. This is where Evan (Tomas Arana) breaks this ancient seal and accidentally unleashes these evil spirits. Once the spirits are unleashed, the cathedral has this mechanism that automatically locks down the old building leaving everyone trapped inside.

This is when these ancient evil spirits begin to terrorize this new group of unsuspecting people and pick up where they left off centuries earlier with a sinister plan that is once again set in motion. Young Lotte (Asia Argento) plays an important part to the story because she’s closely connected to the nightmare that’s now taking place but nobody is really aware of it. There’s also the heroic Father Gus (Hugh Quarshie) who ultimately comes up with a plan to close the seal again but in doing so he has to destroy the entire building as well as sacrifice himself to the cause. Lotte is the sole survivor of this horrific event and in the final moments it shows her reopen the seal and as she looks down into the blue abyss, she slowly cracks a grin.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The Blu-ray disc also features some matching artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The movie has been remastered with a high-definition transfer and the upgrade is impressive. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio. This is another nice high-def upgrade by Doppelgänger and Scorpion.

Bottom line is, The Church ended up being an extreme slow burn but it does pick up the pace as it plays out and the finale makes up for some of its shortcomings. The story was really good but unfortunately the characters weren’t that interesting and some of the movie felt a little lost at times. What was once going to be Demons 3, this 1989 occult chiller took on a life of its own and had a lot of potential but unfortunately it fell flat in a number of ways. The movie did feature some well executed special effects (blood and gore) as well as some impressive cinematography but I feel like the director may have lost his way bringing this story to life on screen. There are some creepy moments but they are few and far between. It’s still worth picking up even though it’s not going to blow anybody away. The Church will be available for the first time ever on Blu-ray in the United States on March 20th.

Distributor: Doppelgänger Releasing and Scorpion Releasing

Run Time: 102 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p igh-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: N/A

Special Features: The extras include two new interviews and six original trailers for different movies that are all connected to Dario Argento.

  • Interview with Director Michele Soavi (19:48)
  • Interview with actor Asia Argento (08:36)
  • The Church Trailer (02:05)
  • The Sect Trailer (01:35)
  • Sleepless Trailer (01:11)
  • Terror at the Opera Trailer (01:48)
  • Etoile Trailer (02:!6)
  • The Card Player Trailer (01:59)
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