Faith-based, micro-budget horror films that are clearly reverse-engineered from their real-life locations are a niche genre at best, and Dom Frank’s The Church is one of the more entertaining examples of the form. Pastor James (horror royalty Bill Moseley) is the preacher at a grand but decaying Baptist church, one of the few buildings in his Philadelphia neighborhood that hasn’t been sold to developers. When James finally gives in and decides to sell, all hell breaks loose.
Some hell, anyway; faith-based horror films dating back to If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? have an unfortunate habit of pulling their punches in the end, and The Church is no different. But at least it gets down to business before the halfway mark, and Frank gets plenty of production value out of the building. If we’re not bearing false witness, most of The Church’s fun comes from its amateurishness, like questionable decisions such as featuring two male characters with shiny bald heads and odd accents whose names both begin with the letter “A.” Even more importantly, a take with a botched line delivery and some truly bad fake drinking from an empty paper cup was kept in the film! The Church is far from great, but it’s never boring, and that’s good enough for the faithful.
Rated PG-13. Opens Friday at the 4-Star Theater.