Opening with a fun exorcism scene where Father Connely, (played by the ubiquitous Danny Trejo), does battle with a demon-possessed young contortionist and comes off worse, The Cloth goes from bad to even worse as it loses its way in a muddle of a badly constructed script, poor acting and even poorer direction.
On paper The Cloth sounds really good, concerning, as it does, a secret order of warrior priests and their research assistants who take their good vs. evil battle to the demons and even have their own blessed armoury. To be fair, there are some quite original ideas sloshing around and some interesting locations used, but sadly - and it gives me no pleasure to say this - the film plays out in a very amateur way with some truly dire acting (the lead, Kyler Willet, is probably guiltiest of this; he makes a pot of Creosote seem exciting by comparison!), some weird direction and editing and there are even scenes which seem to be missing.
Jason, an orphan, who is taken under the wing of one of these priests, is a rebellious young man (read annoying) who it turns out is the ‘chosen one’. Chosen to do what you might ask? Well, to wear some rubbish looking armour, with a big cross on it, wield crucifix guns that can blow up demons (a cool idea until we see the dreadful not-so-special effects), and basically wander around pouting and getting in everyone’s way!
Most of the actors seem really bored in this film, especially the would-be love interest, Perla Rodriguez, who looks like she’d rather be at home counting the bits of fluff she finds under her bed. And whatever happened to the normally reliable Eric Roberts, here playing Father Tollman, who was obviously appearing in this as a favour. They haven’t even used his distinctive voice in a couple of scenes! Although one of the scenes is so creepy – in a child molester kind of way – that perhaps it is best he didn’t return to do his own ADR!
The script feels like it was written by a fourteen year old boy, left on a shelf for several years, and then wasn’t even given a script polish before going into production. There are far too many tedious ‘info –dumps’ where characters spew out whole paragraphs of background information to bring us, the viewers, up to speed. This isn’t so bad if this is done by someone with suitable gravitas like, say, Morgan Freeman, but when it’s done by someone who sounds like they’re mumbling out the phone directory then it’s so very mind-rotting.
The film is also not helped by the over use of lots of annoying editing effects, which, used in moderation can be quite effective, but used too frequently can give the viewer a bad case of Avid Fart tedium, a condition which, I hear, can be fatal!
The film does have its moments though like when Helix, the priests’ armourer (who wears a cool T-shirt, which reads: ‘Exorcise Regularly’), cries out: “Someone slam me with the devil’s nutsack”, which had me laughing, and some of the monster costumes are well constructed. Most of the library music is pretty bland, but I did enjoy some of the rockier stuff used over the main credits.
I think many of the film’s failings can be attributed to the film’s director who, I get the impression, made this as a labour of love, but spread himself way too thinly and was trying to do way too much himself; a common fault with new directors. The result is a film that sadly fails so much more than it succeeds, which is a shame as it had some initial promise.
Next time I’d advise Justin to get a script editor in to check over the script before he starts shooting, get someone else to edit the film for him, and also get additional help to do second unit stuff like the fight choreography, which is really poor here. Oh, and save up some money for the special effects, which are sub-par Lawnmower Man here.
Oh, and even the end credits were a bit of a mess with different fonts being used, at different sizes, which meant you couldn’t actually read half of it! And perhaps most worryingly, they seemed to be trying to set up a sequel at the end of the credits – please God, nooooo!
The Cloth has recently been released on DVD and is being distributed by Metrodome. Unfortunately there were no extras on the review disc – I’d have loved to have heard a commentary.
Reviewer: Justin Richards