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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

THE CHURCH -- Movie Review by Porfle

Amazing to think that Bill Moseley (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, OLD 37, CYNTHIA), best known for playing some of the screen's most deranged psychos, could convincingly pass himself off as a devoted pastor struggling to keep his beloved church from being sold off as part of a real estate development deal.

But this is exactly what happens in 2018's THE CHURCH (Indican Pictures), for which writer-director Dom Franklin, also amazingly, secured the use of an actual church in Philadelphia (along with its congregation) as an ideal found location for his dark, supernatural horror tale.

There's disagreement among the churchgoers themselves, with some, including Pastor James' own wife Loretta (Michelle Romano), eager to sell and move up to greener pastures, while others adamantly resist.  Pastor James himself is loathe to abandon the church that has been in his family for generations and see his dwindling flock cast adrift.

It's this conflict that will provide the backdrop for a sudden burst of supernatural mayhem when the churchfolk and the greedy real estate developers get together in the church to hash things out, only to find themselves in the middle of a nightmare of terror.

We're kept wondering what the hell (so to speak) is behind it all for most of the film's running time.  Some of the characters think the Lord is responsible, a notion that even the most rudimentary knowledge of such things should render highly doubtful.  But the horrific occurences don't seem entirely diabolical either.

These consist mainly of people suddenly turning to dark, swirling ash and being sucked into oblivion, or simply yanked by an unseen force down a dark hallway and out of sight.

Then these hapless victims wake up to find themselves in a misty limbo, some rotting away like zombies and others with their eyes turned to bloody sockets.

None of which is very scary since we don't know what's behind the bizarre events or why they're happening.  When we do finally discover the secret behind it all, the final showdown between the living and the whatever-it-is (I won't give it or the surprise guest star away) is conveyed by some bland special effects and a lot of screaming.

Till then, much of the story consists of the various characters running around trying to get out of the church (which won't let them out) until it's their turn to get whisked into limbo.

Direction and photography are competent, but there's just not much here in the way of interesting effects, gore makeups, etc., or genuine scares.

As previously noted, the most interesting thing about THE CHURCH for me was seeing Bill Moseley doing so well with such a change-of-pace role.  But as a horror film, it scarcely reaches the level of nightmare for which it so earnestly strives.


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