Wednesday, 5 March 2014



Beyond unforgivable, this Church-versus-demons horror effort is a barely professional piece of incompetent garbage, badly made and atrociously acted by people who are either utterly clueless about the mechanics of film-making technique or who simply don't give a damn one way or another. With the general mood of a particularly desperate daytime soap opera and the production values of gonzo pornography, sub-Asylum special effects that have been apparently pasted from a 1980s videogame in Microsoft Paint and a couple of name stars (who on this evidence will do absolutely anything for money) who throw the gaping void of the rest of the cast into sharp relief, it's one of the very worst items to plod through my DVD player in a long time: in recent months only A Haunted House has beaten it for misery value.

The basic idea (if that's not too strong a word, and let's be honest, it is) behind The Cloth is that there's a secret ass-kicking wing of the Catholic Church devoted to fighting demons. For no good reason, they decide to recruit an angry cardboard cutout of Hayden Christensen into their order, give him some tricksy guns and grenades full of holy water and send him out to stop Beelzebub from bringing Hell to Earth in the next seven days, accompanied only by a priest/mentor and a virginal cute librarian who somehow manages to resist out hero's clunking chat-up techniques. Eric Roberts is a senior priest who may or may not be on Satan's side; it's hard to care by that point. Oh, and they've got a demon/human hybrid thing chained up in their secret base which gives them useful information. You'd think that with Satan all set to walk the Earth the Catholic Church could put up than four people (one of whom is a hopeless idiot) in the defence of all Mankind, but no.

Events kick off with Danny Trejo exorcising a woman in scenes which have nothing to do with the rest of the movie; Trejo wisely buggers off before the opening credits which actually put his name after the director's. Satan's minion is played by the director in the cheapest Halloween costume left on the shelf, and would have been laughed off the screen in the Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who's giant liquorice allsort monsters. The actual image is apparently sourced from a Red camera, which suggests the Red has a button to make everything look like cheap American television from the 1980s; honestly, it could scarcely have looked worse if shot on VHS.

Put bluntly, it's unacceptable. It's not unreasonable for a paying audience to expect a basic standard of competence and professionalism in return for the rental fee and even if you somehow got it for free it's still going to shortchange you. And it's insulting to think that someone out there either thought this was good enough to go out to the public, or thought that it didn't matter because horror fans will watch any old rubbish. It's not enough that everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves; everyone involved should be roundly and soundly slapped several times and instructed never to do that again. Even if they were just doing the catering. Avoid, avoid, avoid.


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