Directed by Scott Stewart
This movie takes place on an alternate Earth. The war between humans and vampires has raged for centuries and not only devastated both species but also the planet. The Priests were created by the Church and not only turned the tide but ended the conflict. Humanity now is largely walled up in massive dirty cities.
Paul Bettany plays a priest only ever referred to in the film as Priest. One day he’s visited by a sheriff from a settlement outside of the cities and told that his family has been attacked by a band of vampires and that his niece was taken. As the story progresses, we learn one of a vampire plot to strike at human civilization with a newly bred vampire army.
This movie is a weird hybrid of the vampire movie and the western with heavy doses of science fiction thrown in. And just like in so many westerns before, the hero is pulled back into the fight in order to save those that he loves. All the sets in this movie are built with an old west feel to them. Everything is dusty and the buildings are weatherworn and there is a very old west style to all the costumes. Despite obvious advanced technology bullets and trains are still quite common in this world. It definitely sets it apart from other science fiction? horror themed? films. Which is it? I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s weird and I love it.
Karl Urban plays the main villain known only as Black Hat. I’m not sure if I’ve seen Urban really do villains. Sure, he was a bad guy in Thor Ragnarok but he was more of a henchman than a central bad guy. Here he is the big bad and he relishes in the part. He hams it up and it works so well. All he lacks in the role is a long mustache to twirl. I would love to see him do this more on the big screen.
There is one scene towards the end when the vampires on the train (yes, the vampire plot involves a train) stops in a town for one last feeding before they attack the big city. Black Hat is walking long as there is nothing but carnage going on around him. And all the action is occurring while some classical music is playing, and his character starts conducting the chaos like a conductor would an orchestra. It just is so dark and over the top.
Aside from Black Hat (and even he’s a little different) the vampires we see are nothing like Dracula. They are gray skinned slimy creatures without eyes and very big teeth. Much like the usual type of vampire, sunlight is lethal to them but aside from that there’s no indication that they hold any of the other traditional vampire weaknesses. And for new vampires they apparently have babies.
Urban’s character is the closest we come to a traditional vampire but he’s more like a person given superpowers rather than an actual vampire. He has strength and agility and fangs but no aversion to sunlight. At the beginning of the movie in scenes that during the waning days of the war he was captured by some vampires but rather than be devoured he was converted by their queen into a human vampire.
The plot isn’t too complex. Like any western it’s a simple story of good versus evil. It’s just a stripped-down revenge/rescue story. And it really doesn’t need to be anything else either.
This movie provides you with some cool action. The fight scenes are amazing. It’s some truly well-choreographed stuff. They’re very kinetic and a lot happens so it is a good thing that they were slowed down so you’re able to catch it all.
So long as you leave your brain at the door you will enjoy this film. Don’t go in expecting Shakespeare or anything very sophisticated. This movie is a highly underated fun action romp with a pretty cool concept. It’s a movie I revisit frequently and enjoy a great deal. I think you will too.