Cast: Paul Bettany,Cam Gigandet,Lily Collins,Maggie Q,Karl Urban
Director: Scott Stewart
It isn’t the first time the Church has confused itself with being God. But let not Priest fool you into thinking it’s about that. The film starts by branding selected “priests” “the ultimate weapon of the Church”,trained to hunt down vampires. And but for the cross the “priests” wear branded on their foreheads,and the fashionably altered habit that encloaks them,the film treats them purely as such: the ultimate weapon.
In a gritty world that could fit any end-of-the-world scenarios,where grimy men and women inhabit dingy,rusted homes,which otherwise open with state-of-the-art security locks,live these “priests”. With the vampires vanquished,presumably for good,and locked away in “Reservations”,the talents of the “priests” are no longer required and so they are told to be obscure and mingle with the masses.
The Church meanwhile rules from Cathedral City (that could have emerged from Metropolis),telling its residents, through regular public addresses,to repent and live in absolution. But don’t let Priest fool you into thinking it’s about to question the foundations of a faith such as this,that rests on confessions through computers,recording all your personal data.
Once our main Priest in question,played by Paul Bettany,has “defied” the Church and driven past the Cathedral City’s walls on the kind of motorcycle that displays “Initiating Start-up Sequence” when the key is turned,the film never looks back over its shoulder at this city of gods.
Bettany’s defiance has been prompted by the kidnapping of his niece Lucy (Lily Collins) by the vampires — so they are not vanquished,after all. And when the Church refuses to let him go chase them — to keep the balance and “for the larger public good” — he hops onto his bike and drives into the wilderness. He is joined by Lucy’s boyfriend,a Sheriff (Cam Gigandet) complete with cowboy boots and hats — a contrast if there ever was with the other men in the film who walk dragging their feet under the weight of the collective misery that envelops Priest.
The only surprise left in the film then are the vampires. Derived from the same-named graphic novel by Hyung Min-woo,they are certainly not your Twilight kind,little more than blobs of flesh,with “no eyes” and certainly no sparkling skins. Led by a Priest-turned-vampire (Karl Urban),they don’t live in mansions but “hives” in mountains. Their young ones tear out of embryonic sacs like everyday Hollywood aliens. When they move,the hundreds of them together board a goods train. And when they die,they just die. There is the Church. But there certainly is a God.