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La Chiesa #MovieReview

An old Gothic cathedral, built over a mass grave, develops strange powers which trap a number of people inside with ghosts from a 12th Century massacre seeking to resurrect an ancient demon from the bowels of the Earth.

La Chiesa (The Church) movie cover

 It will make you squirm

Starring: Hugh QuarshieTomas AranaFeodor Chaliapin Jr. 

Release Date: 1989 | Runtime: 1hr 42min | Genre: Horror | Source: Streaming | Country: Italy | Alternate Title: The Church | Starred Review

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La Chiesa Review

I don’t care how old this film is or the quality of some of the special effects (expect craft store paint for blood). This is horror. Argento fans have probably seen La Chiesa, but for those that are unfamiliar with Argento, and plum tired of remakes, give it a go. And I don’t say that to shade the Suspiria remake that I enjoyed. Tilda Swinton…Hello!

Medieval Times: Teutonic knights slaughter an entire village for witchcraft and spreading plague. The monk leading the horde commands a cathedral be built over the mass grave.

Present Day: The cathedral is a working church with photo shoots and school trips. Evan is the new and eager librarian who is quickly taken by Lisa, the woman in charge of art restoration. Part of one particularly scary fresco crumbles to reveal a parchment. Evan recounts the history of the knights and the church when she tells him about it. He thinks there might be treasure. As they try to have unpassionate sex (zero chemistry), he notices something about the parchment. Leaving Lisa in bed, he deciphers the artefact.
The following day he ventures into the catacombs, a place he was warned to not enter. He discovers an ugly (and cool) stone sculpture of a seven eyed goat. He removes the carving that is covering what appears to be a larger cavern. Evan injures himself while reaching into the hole for a satchel. He might not have found treasure, but he did discover something.

What I really liked about La Chiesa is the setting. I live in England and have travelled Europe extensively so I can attest to the fact that some of these old as dirt churches are as beautiful as they are frightening. Last year I visited a Norman church with an 11th century fresco depicting hell. I kid you not it gave me the scares because I was the only one in the church that was the size of a petrol station. The drawings were crude and a color that could pass for dried blood. I took my photos for Instagram and left. But what if there was more.

It was refreshing to see the occult trope woven into history with interesting characters, and for the timing of La Chiesa it was great to see a black lead in a non-stereotypical role.
With an unexpected hero, gruesome old school deaths (don’t expect CGI), 80s hair and make-up, and bizarre imagery I would give this film for out of five stars. With that said, the hero could have used more airtime. I can look past that considering how extra the rest of the film is. If you liked The VVitch or The Omen, I think you might enjoy this one.

Published inMovie ReviewsStarred Reviews
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