WonderCon 2011: PRIEST Recap

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Tonight I was able to see some footage from Scott Stewart’s Priest as Screen Gems premiered a few scenes to a number of WonderCon attendees. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film stars Paul Bettany as a renegade warrior priest who goes on the hunt for his niece who’s been kidnapped by vampires. The 3D film also stars Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Karl Urban, and Lily Collins. Hit the jump for my reaction to the footage.

Priest-movie-posterWe were shown one full sequence from Priest, as well as with a sizzle reel. The sequence that we saw was dubbed the “night shade” sequence and opens with Bettany and Gigandet going down this large manhole at dusk. Once underground, they encounter what look like albino monks who are presumably servants to the vampires nested below, waiting for the sun to go down. We get a bit of action, as Bettany and Gigandet battle a few of these servants, but the sun starts to set and we get the feeling that shit’s about to go down.

Well, we were right. Night hits, and out crawl the vampires. However, if you’ve seen the trailer, you know the vampires don’t really look much like any other vampires we’ve been presented with. They have no eyes (kind of like The Pale Man in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth), and their mouth is narrow, making way for hook-like fangs. Their body shape is relatively human, but they have large claws on for hands.

The action scene that followed was stylized and fairly kick-ass. There’s plenty of blood and guts, with some entertaining kills courtesy of Bettany’s religious themed weaponry. The 3D here is obvious, with weapons flying across the screen and vampire teeth snarling in your face. While normally cheap gags in 3D films get annoying, this works for Priest in a fun action/horror, B-movie kind of way.

priest-movie-imageAfter the “night shade” sequence, we were shown a sizzle reel showcasing more of Bettany’s blood-inducing kills and some nice weapon wielding by Maggie Q. We also got a few glimpses of Urban, decked out in Western-looking gear, hat and all. We also saw a bit of a showdown between Urban and Bettany on top of a train. Overall, the muted tone of the film and desert-like setting of some of the set-pieces give off a “futuristic Western” vibe which seems to fit along with the aloneness of Bettany’s banished character.

Judging from what we were shown, Priest looks to be a fairly entertaining action/horror flick. It seems like it will work well as a fun date movie, especially for couples looking for a movie about vampires that don’t sparkle. There were quite a few “jumpy” moments and the 3D only augments the scare factor. I was also surprised to find out that the film is PG-13. The kills showcased in the footage we saw were rather graphic, with a good deal of blood. While it remains to be seen if the film as a whole is enough to grab one’s attention for two hours, I’d say it looks pretty promising so far.

Be sure to check back on Collider soon for interviews with the cast. Priest opens in theaters everywhere in 3D May 13th.

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