We are in the Middle Ages. A group of Teutonic knights performs a real massacre of unarmed civilians, considered as followers of the devil. On the mass grave where the bodies were buried, in order to ward off the return of Evil, it was decided to build a cathedral.
Nowadays the structure, frequented by dozens of faithful, is the site of restoration works and the new librarian Evan discovers the ancient narrative manuscripts of a legend concerning his own The Church ; during subsequent investigations, the man accidentally opens a seal in the subsoil, giving away free to demonic entities that will soon return to the surface taking control of those who frequent the religious place.
In the first person will also be involved in the beautiful restorer Lisa, with whom Evan had just started a relationship, and the young Lotte, daughter of the sacristan whose identity seems to hide more than a secret. And when the gates of hell are likely to open up to the outside world, the only hopes remain in the determination of a young priest of color.
In the name of Satan
It was to be the third chapter of the lucky franchise of Demons but after the abandonment of Lamberto Bava (engaged in the filming of Fantaghirò ) the project took another direction by the will of the successor Michele Soavi then back (in 1991) from the good results of the public and critics of the debut Deliria (1989). Despite the desire of Dario Argento and the other writers to maintain a thematic continuity with the previous films, La Chiesa is considered by its director as a work in its own right, while sharing with the succinct titles different similarities at the narrative level, with the religious setting in this case to make an ideal background to the demonic escalation that takes place in the hundred minutes of vision.
After a brief but fascinating medieval prologue, with an army of Teutonic knights who, without mercy and under the command of the ecclesiastical organs, carry out a real massacre of men, women and children (for whom clear indications were given to the incipit of Conan the Barbarian 1982), 'action moves into the present by adopting the typical style of that local horror that has made school, leaving the restless atmosphere, increasingly macabre, and the camera movements become catalyzed visual actors able to turn a blind eye to a narrative that is not always coherent and in which several forcing are revealed.
The structure that hosted the shooting is actually the Matthias Church, which is located in Szentháromság Square in Budapest, and turns out to be the perfect stage at least in the parts in "surface", since the many sequences in the basements were shot in the studio
The origins of evil
Even the characters are tailor-made for a story in which there is a true protagonist, but rather an ideal and heterogeneous coexistence between triggering elements and sacrificial victims, whose roles soon end up inexorably mixing when madness begins to assail everything and everyone, both in mad deeds of violence and in frightening hallucinations, unleashing a real horrifying climax of undoubted aesthetic effectiveness. A narrative ascension excellently supported by almost pictorial solutions and special effects that are simple but able to reach the primary objective with incredible naturalness
Among stylistically unexceptionable subjects (above all those through the helmet of the Teutonic knights, shaped like a cross) and shots from the most unthinkable positions, The Church (now available in high definition for the home video market thanks to CG Entertainment) lurks like a celluloid nightmare in which the public can identify with the fundamental look of the young Lotte, excellently interpreted by a Asia Argento then fourteen years old, a real empathic vehicle through which to watch the ever more tortuous and dramatic events.
The heterogeneous soundtrack is signed by the likes of Goblin Philip Glass and Keith Emerson and incisively insinuates in the tense flow of history, up to a deliberately ambiguous epilogue that gives further fascination to a work perhaps imperfect but rich in an alchemical magnetism.