There are creatures called vampires and they have been at war with humans for centuries. Humans have withdrawn inside huge walled cities. The tide of the war is turned in humanity’s favour by the creation of a class of warrior priests with the strength and power to defeat the vampires. The vampires are forced into guarded reservations and the Church declares the war over and disbands the priests. This prologue is told in stills of drawings like it’s comic book. And indeed this is based on a South Korean comic book series. I have no experience of the source material to judge how close this film is to its source material, so I won’ t be able develop that special hatred that its devoted fans may have for this film.
We get to see a squad of priests inside a vampire hive (not a nest). These vampires are like termites with a queen who produces the eyeless bloodsucking nocturnal predators. The squad includes our hero Priest (Paul Bettany), Priestess (Maggie Q) and a few others including Karl Urban. As they move through the hive the ground gives way beneath them and Karl Urban disappears down a huge hole. Vampires attack them from all sides and some of them make it out alive including Priest and Priestess. Next we go to farm house in the middle of the desert where Owen Pace (Stephen Moyer or Vampire Bill from True Blood) lives with his wife Shannon and his daughter Lucy farming dirt I guess.. They are sitting down to their dinner. Owen says grace and then just as he finishes the house starts shaking. Owen rushes Lucy down into the cellar and tells her to stay there no matter what she hears. Lucy sits in silence as the sounds of a violent struggle upstairs builds then dies way again. She hears footsteps and the door to the cellar is opened by an unseen figure.
Next we see Priest inside a walled city called Cathedral City. The place is a bit like the city in Blade Runner but it’s lot like the one in 1984. There are giant video screens with the head of Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) all over the place reminding people of the importance of obedience to the Church. Priest walks through the city with his hood up but there’s no hiding the cross tattooed on his face. People are afraid of him when they see it. A little boy asks his father who hushes him instead of telling his son that Priest is a super cool vampire killer who saved them from the vampires.
Priest goes to an automated confessional where grainy low quality videos of Orelas are played in response to his confession. It has a very lo-tech/hi-tech steam punk look about it. He meets a young wasteland sheriff called Hicks (Cam Gigandet) who tells him that Priest’s family have been attacked by vampires. His sister-in-law is dead, his brother is critically injured and his niece Lucy has been captured. Hicks loves Lucy and wants Priest’s help to get her back.
The film continues with Priest and Hicks and eventually joined by Priestess to rescue Lucy and battle against a vampire army gathering to attack the walled cities under the command of a mysterious man in a black cowboy hat. They are up against the vampires, their infected human familiars and a group of priests that the church has sent out to stop them. What we get is a reasonably exciting fantasy action adventure film. There is nothing special about it but I did enjoy it while watching it.
It does take a little bit of getting used to unfamiliar use of familiar words such as church, priest and vampire. It might be an effect similar to those electronics instruction manuals that have been twice through very poor translations into another language. Paul Bettany seems to be channelling the same character he used to play Michael in Legion, a film made by the same director Scott Charles Stewart. (Edit: I have since found that the similarity of characters was even stronger since in the source material Priest fights rogue angels and this was changed to vampires at the directors insistence to avoid people claiming he was just making Legion all over again). I liked the decayed cyberpunk slums in the walled cities I would have liked to have seen more of the action take place there.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- TV Tropes
- Movie Review: Priest (3D) (2011) (pacejmiller.wordpress.com)
- Priest Review….worth the watch !!!! (cyberiasha.com)