Far from the expected pale skinned, blazing eyes, and cool mannerisms, the vampires in the newest vampire release Priest are anything but. In fact, it is somewhat refreshing to view them as creatures and visual monsters. There is no conflict in trying to decide whether they are bad, evil, or possibly morally conflicted. It is simply that they must be killed. They resemble grayish hued blobs with no eyes and long fangs and claws. Clearly there are no mushy emotions running through these beasts as with the very human vamps in Twilight and Underworld. Director Scott Stewart makes a comeback from his previous, not so successful venture with Paul Bettany, Legion, released in 2009. Together they create a post-apocalyptic world where the monsters and the Church are easily interchangeable.
Just as you become comfortable watching Bettany perform amazing feats of priestly duties on these godforsaken creatures, along come a second and then third kind of vampire. There are the “familiars”, enslaved humanistic creatures that serve the true vamps and then there is Karl Urban, playing an ex-priest captured and bitten by the queen vampire herself. This creates a whole new twist to the already multi-faceted storyline that is only made obvious towards the end. There are several stories running at once, none of them seeming to matter until the end when it is revealed that there are secret family ties and a love story untold.
When the viewer is not watching Maggie Q kick some vampire behind, in a way that only this super skinny and yet amazingly athletic woman can perform without looking completely ridiculous, we see the strong undertone of the Church. Although it is no surprise that with the fall of civility as they know it the towns and people fall under the rule of the dogmatic Church and it’s brainwashing capabilities, it does add some comfort that religion is not the answer to the fall of humanity but instead the pure faith in God that empowers the Priests to become the superhuman saviors.
Aside from the fact that almost every line could be used as a phrase for a movie trailer, the action does speak louder than the poorly written lines for actor Cam Gigandet. But we already knew from his previous appearance in Twilight that his attendance is merely necessary as a side-kick to the unmistakable genius of Bettany as he deals with his conflicted path of loyalty and faith. By the end of the film the lines could be cut altogether as the action-packed scenes have the audience on the edge of their seats, waiting for what happens next. Hopefully the sequel will appear with less talking and more vampire slaying, courtesy of the action diva Maggie Q and the ever hopeful Bettany.