Whilst this is my second vampire film in a row it is as different from Queen of the Damned as Stilton and Feta cheese (I’m not quite sure which is which in this analogy). Priest is loosely based on a Korean comic, Manhwa (Korean for Priest) by Hyung Min-woo, it is set in a dystopic future where humans have finally defeated vampires, a war that has been going on for centuries. Following the victory over vampires, human civilisation is ruled by The Church a twisted take on today’s Catholic church complete with confession booths, which were very reminiscent of the dodgy portaloos you find at music festivals. The film follows Priest, played by Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind), one of the warrior priests that were instrumental in defeating the vampires. However, Priest along with the rest of his warrior companions was cast aside after the war back into the general population.
The plot is a simple one, Priest’s brother and his family are violently attacked by a group of vampires who kidnap his niece, Lucy played by Lily Colins (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and coincidently Phil Colin’s daughter). On hearing this news, Priest seeks permission from The Church to go and hunt for Lucy but is refused. Priest sets out anyway and in doing so becomes a fugitive who is pursued by fellow warrior priests. Upon arriving at his brother’s home, Priest is joined by the local law enforcer (and Lucy’s paramour), Hicks, played by Cam Gigandet (Pandorum), complete with “witty” one-liners.
I would be hesitant to call the vampires in Priest vampires, they are not like your “usual” vampire (e.g Interview with the Vampire, Vampyr and Captain Kronos) rather they are more akin to Alien, lacking all facial features except a very large mouth. These vampires are a completely separate race (as opposed to humans turned into vampires) and whilst humanoid lack all human characteristics making it very hard to relate to them. Indeed their very society is more similar to that of ants than humans, living in a hive each with its own queen.
In director Scott Stewart’s (Sin City, Dark Skies) vision is clear to see the inspiration from a graphic novel, indeed the opening of the film is an animated history of the vampire war. There was the sense of some greater depth to the film bubbling under the surface which was unfortunately left untapped and I was left feeling the plot was very light and an excuse for some set action pieces. Perhaps if I was more familiar with the original manga I would have been aware of some more subtly but to me Priest felt very one dimensional.
I would recommend Priest only if you are a fan of action films and don’t want to think too much about a plot.
Has anyone read the manga? Does it give more insight into the film or are they completely different?