Review: Priest (2011)

WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

This movie is a rather intriguing take on the Man vs. Vampire story that has been a staple product of both Hollywood and British movie making for the last half century.

Starring Paul Bettany as the Priest of the title, it’s a story set on an alternate Earth where the war between Humans and Vampires has raged for centuries with Man taking ever-increasing losses until the Church, which by now has risen to rule the world, creates a class of warrior-priests to hunt down and destroy the Vampires in their hives. This they do so successfully, that within a few years the few remaining Vampires are confined to underground reservations and Humans have retreated into massive walled megalopolis’.

The surviving Priests are so feared by the Church, they are stripped of their authority and forced to eke out a living as manual labourers (because they have no other applicable skills) in a society that fears them.

The trouble for Priest begins when his brother’s farm, in the wastelands where the clergy have no real authority, is attacked by a Vampire pack. The brother and his wife, played by Stephen Moyer and Madchen Amick, are both brutally slaughtered and their daughter Lucy, played by Lily Collins daughter of musician Phil Collins, is abducted by the packs’ leader Black Hat who is played by Karl Urban in another superb performance.

Priest is approached by Hicks(Cam Gigandet), the local town sheriff who asks him to help rescue Lucy. Priest goes to the clergy backed by Monsignor Chamberlain (Alan Dale) and asks to be restored to duty, but is dismissed by Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) who wants to believe the Vampire menace is over and won’t allow anyone to cause a panic.

Obviously, he goes rogue and hunts down the villain and saves the girl etc etc, but for me, the appealing thing about this movie is the realisation of Vampires as an entirely different species of life. Depicted here, they are clearly not Human and move with a Cheetah’s speed and grace.

On the downside, this film does preach quite a bit about how our power “comes from God not the Church” and how the Church is corrupt and out-of-touch with ordinary people as evidenced by the Monsignors living in clean, luxurious comfort while the masses live in an overcrowed steam punk nightmare.

Plot wise, there’s nothing really original here and the movie isn’t what I would call thought inspiring. There are a few surprises and frights for the horror fans, but this is more an action-adventure movie than a horror one.

All in all, a worthwhile investment of 90 minutes if you have nothing better to do.

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