continue to be fascinated by vampire lore and the recent spate of
texts is a testament to this: Twilight,
The Vampire Diaries, True Blood.
How will a film like Priest, which traditionally
vampires as soulless villains, fare in this
It’s hard to tell. Priest is
loosely based on Min-Woo
Hyung’s series of Korean graphic novels of the same name. It tells the
an anonymous priest (Paul Bettany – The
Da Vinci Code, A Knight’s Tale) who,
along with many others, may wield the power of God. These gifted
divine soldiers and are the only ones equipped to defeat the barbarous
After years of peace, the priests are left religiously unemployed.
when vampires kidnap a young woman, Bettany’s character must rebel
Clergy and reprise his vamp-killing ways to rescue her.
Priest, vampires are portrayed as
eyeless and unsympathetic alien-like creatures. They live in
hives and have their own social hierarchy, with a Queen who presides
drones and workers. Through an animated opening sequence, we’re told
and vampires have fought for resources and warred for survival since
beginning of time. But with violent events occurring in Afghanistan at
moment, one can only think, ‘What about a human-vampire truce?’ A
this suggestion might be, ‘Well, those vampires lack empathy. They’re
carnivores that must be eradicated.’ I have only one response to this.
was once a time when humans and wolves similarly competed in the wild.
our species was intelligent enough to domesticate and breed certain
loyal ‘best friends.’ So, why hasn’t anyone in this world of Priest captured and tamed, or even experimented
on any vampires? It’s a legitimate question that weakens the logic of
and, perhaps, graphic novels.
note, the distinction between good and evil in Priest
is very claustrophobic. Humans are morally varied, but all vampires
are evil. This whole idea of slapping the ‘bad’ label on all things
is antiquated. It just reminds me of John Wayne and his
shudder-inducing role in
The Searchers. In this film, Wayne gathers
frontiersmen to reclaim his niece, who has been kidnapped by
course, these Native Americans are ‘all’ savage and uncivilised, and
their place in the colonised world.* These political
holes in Priest are not the only factors
that work against the film. Sure, it boasts exciting 3D visual effects
but the acting is very two-dimensional. For example, Cam Gigandet (Twilight, Easy A) is flat as Sheriff
Hicks. His previous role as a vampire may have been a studio tactic to
millions of Twi-Hards into cinemas. However, with his corny dialogue
Zoolander-esque expressions, he is an artistic disservice to the film.
with Priest stems from the fact that
I’m reading it in secular terms – something that both the film and
novels are not. Much like director Scott Stewart’s previous feature Legion, Priest is full of Christian
references and symbology, with crucifix-shaped
ninja stars and voice-activated confessional booths. I just hope that,
sequel (if one is made), there’s more insight into the vampires’
and ideologies. After all, for a highly organised species, vampires
their own sophisticated forms of communication à la bees and ants. I
mind subtitles. For better or worse, Priest is
the type of Hollywood
blockbuster that will sell through the roof. Champagne showers are
pouring for Tokyopop and Screen Gems as I type. However, if I’d wanted
to watch a graphic sci-fi vampire film with characters that rebelled
futuristic autocracy, I would have stuck with the forward-thinking Underworld.
writing this review, I was shocked to discover
that Priest is indeed a tribute to The
Searchers. Double Yuck!