Synopsis: PRIEST, a western-fused post-apocalyptic thriller, is set in an alternate world — one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest (Paul Bettany) from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece (Lily Collins) is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her before they turn her into one of them. He is joined on his crusade by his nieceâs boyfriend (Cam Gigandet), a trigger-fingered young wasteland sheriff, and a former Warrior Priestess (Maggie Q) who possesses otherworldly fighting skills.
Release Date: May 13, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Horror, Science Fiction
Priest begins with a flashback inside the vampire’s Sola Mira hive. A group of priests are hunting the queen vampire, and have fallen into a trap. Many of their own are lost in battle and one priest (Paul Bettany) experiences a trauma that will haunt him for the rest of his life, the inability to save one of his own from being taken and killed by the vampire swarm. On his scream the film shifts to tell the story of the age old feud between vampires and humans. The vampires, an eyeless animalistic monster predator has lived throughout the centuries, warring with human’s over land and power. This is an animated history, presented like pictures out of a religious book or ancient scroll. As the story ends the viewer is aware of everything that has occurred and where the world stands now. In order to avoid extinction human’s live in walled cities, surrounded by the wastelands of what used to be their world, while the vampires are housed on reservations. The priest’s, who were trained as warriors by the Church to defend against the vampires have been stripped of their titles and forced to live solitary, menial lives while dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder that goes untreated and ignored. In this new world the vampire threat no longer exists and therefore everyone is safe, the priest’s are no longer needed, and as long as an individual subscribes to the belief that “absolution is the only way” they will live the life God has chosen for them.
The world of Priest inside Cathedral City is bleak, without sunlight and heavily clouded with falling sky debris, all metal and seeping with dampness. This is a post-apocalyptic world where misery appears to exist more so than glory by the grace of God. The wasteland is drastically different. The damaged skies are not without light, they are piercing white. The brightness exemplifies the lifelessness of the land, where nothing will grow and life cannot be sustained. Within the never-ending desert there are towns littered about with people who do not prescribe to the ruling of the Church. As time once began in the Old West time has returned, and the post-apocalyptic world consists of two contrasting landscapes, Cathedral City and that of the wasteland towns. The film spends the majority of its time in the wasteland as the Priest (Paul Bettany) breaks his vows to leave Cathedral City in order to avenge his family’s murder and rescue his niece from what he believes to be a new army of vampires.
Priest is not alone on his quest, as his niece’s gunslinger boyfriend Hicks (Cam Gigandet) becomes his partner, as does an old friend and ally, the Priestess (Maggie Q.). What develops is a hunt for the new vampire army, miles over the vast wasteland with the use of futuristic motorcycles. While Priest is sorely lacking in any extensive creativity, or depth of story, it is not without a small amount of enjoyable diversional tactics. There are a few good jumps to be had when the vampire’s attack, and some acceptable action sequences to keep the mind from wandering. It does not have a great amount of suspense or thrills, nor does it possess anything that makes you want to examine the philosophical and religious parallels the story sets up for the viewer. Frankly, the immediacy of cueing the viewer into the religious tone of the entire film, and not so casual references to the corrupt power of the Church make any possibility for further reflection null. In the end though Priest is not painful, or abhorrent to watch for just over 80 minutes. It is not a film one would ever recommend to a friend to see, but it is not entirely worthy of being called an abomination to the cinematic craft either.
The only distinct special effects of the film involves the creation of the vampires. The first moment they appeared on screen it was obvious that they had been seen before. They have no eyes, a large mouth with multiple finger-long teeth protruding; they salivate and secrete from their body and mouth, and have slithery silver skin. Their body resembles that of a human but they use all four limbs to move about quickly. What makes them far from being creative, even if the actual look of them is average in terms of FX, is that they are not original. A variation of this vampire monster has been seen before in movies. Even the noise they make is reminiscent of the Raptor in the Jurassic Park franchise. While I could not pinpoint exactly what film I have seen the likes of these monsters before–and believe me I have been trying to remember for hours–anyone who has seen enough monster/vampire/creature movies will undoubtedly feel the same way about them. With this realization you feel cheated in part because you want something new and exciting. You want to see a new imagining of a vampire on screen, not the same thing you have seen before. Priest‘s vampires lose your interest fairly quickly, and it becomes more diverting to spot the references to Mad Max than pay attention to them.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Scott Charles StewartMitchell PeckSam Raimi
- Producer(s): Cory Goodman
- Screenwriter(s): Paul Bettany (Priest)Karl Urban (Black Hat)Cam Gigandet (Hicks)
- Story: Maggie Q. (Priestess)
- Cast: Lily Collins (Lucy)Christopher Plummer (Monsignor Orelas) Lisa Zeno ChurginRebecca WeigoldDon BurgessRichard Bridgland
- Cinematographer: Christopher Young
- Production Designer(s): Iloura
- Costume Designer: Kerner Optical
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA