review for The Church on AllMovie

The Church (1989)
by Jason Buchanan review

After receiving overwhelming praise by genre fans following his debut feature Stage Fright (1987), Italian director and Dario Argento protégé Michele Soavi follows up with this gothic-drenched apocalyptic nightmare which was originally slated as the third Demons film. Departing substantially from the pulsing, rock music-driven excess of Demons and Demons 2, The Church instead relies on building a suffocating sense of quiet dread, complimented by the beautifully surreal visuals that would define such later Soavi efforts as The Sect (1990) and Dellamorte, Dellamore (1994). Though many lamented the film's comparatively languid pacing as opposed to its predecessors, viewing The Church out of context and completely removed from the alluring expectation of gore-drenched demons charging through a gothic cathedral offers a satisfyingly horrific effort with some truly breathtaking photography. With The Church, Soavi comes into his own as a visual stylist, even if his storytelling skills may not have been totally realized at this point. Though Argento's influence can be felt in nearly every frame of The Church, Soavi has obviously taken another step toward becoming a director capable of functioning outside of his former mentor's restraints.