The film is set in an alternate world where vampires and humans have been at war for centuries – it’s also in 3D and I’ll get to that later in this article. After an introduction featuring the priests we get an animated section that gives us the vampire and human backstory. Now, I really liked this but, if you wanted to pull it apart you could wonder how humans developed from knights to a First World War era society, to having cities (we see the war ravaged remains in film) to the high tech, post-apocalyptic cyberpunk meets Wild West future. Surely, if the vampire nation was so powerful and such a threat… but you know what, to me that’s overthinking it and as such thoughts hit I manfully buried them and settled down for the ride.
For ride it is; from the permanent dark skies of the church controlled dystopian cities to the frontier towns that were "Western meets Mad Max" this rocketed along. Basic story, the Priests were highly skilled persons or maybe even folk possessed of special powers, who were conscripted into the clergy and trained to fight the vampires. The vampires are a different race, blind blood suckers who can infect humans and make them familiars – essentially slaves. The Priests defeated the vampires, and the few remaining live on guarded reservations, whilst the church decided its special weapon was too powerful, disbanded the order and put them into low manual labour roles.
|Cam Gigandet as Hicks|
The film had moments owed to many a different film and genre. Mad Max has been mentioned, there was almost a Matrix element and the vampires, being eyeless, making hives out of sticky sputum and having a queen, brought to mind Alien (though the Alien series itself owes a debt to a couple of vampire sci-fi flicks, Queen of Blood and It! The Terror from Beyond Space.) Of course the alien didn’t have the weakness of burning in the sun. There is also a hive guardian – a giant, ‘guard-dog’ version of a vampire and 'something new', in the form of Black Hat (Karl Urban).
The vampires weren’t scary, the film itself only carries a UK 12a rating, but then it is an action film. They were, however, ferocious and carried a violence that was refreshing. The fact that they are rather animalistic helped.
|The Priest and a familiar|
Overall verdict, I am sure there are going to be many who disagree but I thoroughly enjoyed Priest in a take the brain out action flick sort of way (ok, you could ponder on the dystopian view of Church rule but that was actually background rather than the main feast). The story wasn’t complex and it unashamedly left itself open for a series to follow. Gothic vampire fans may well baulk and teen vampire fans will weep over the idea that Cam Gigandet is in a vampire film with effective bloodsuckers. As for number 1 son, who came to the screening with me, he really enjoyed it too. A full review will follow the DVD release. The imdb page is here and the homepage is here.
Edit: Having rewatched this on DVD I have plumped to give it 6.5 out of 10.