The Priests (2015)
The New York Asian Film Festival came to town recently, and although this is normally a time I really look forward to, I have been catching so many good to great movies all over town that getting excited about the prospect of new and potentially bad Asian films did not hold the appeal it once did. When this festival started in 2002, there were few outlets to see Asian films. Based on the work of these guys and other programmers, theaters nowadays show all kinds of Asian films, and for that I am grateful. But while the festival was on this year, there were MANY competing Asian films playing at other theaters as well, at least 12 that I could easily count, and I am pretty sure it is more like at least 20 over the 18 days or so of the festival. It looks like I am going to catch at least 7 of the 50+ movies this year at the festival, but I have been known to see upwards of 20 or more. I already reviewed the second and third ones I have seen, which were Grace and The Mobfathers, and now I am popping back to the first one I saw on June 23rd, 2016, called The Priests.
Earlier in the year I caught The Wailing, a Korean exorcism filmed based on shamanism. This is a more traditional exorcism, based on the Catholic church, but also set in Korea. You could call this their take on The Exorcist, though it is not a blatant rip off by any means. The story revolves around a possessed girl, and one priest's attempt to save her. It takes two priests to do an exorcism, and everyone keeps quitting on him. The church is worried that he is molesting her instead of saving her, and the girl, while possessed, tries to kill herself as the demon inside of her would prefer to be in a male body, which would make it stronger. Even in Asian horror movies the Asians look down on having female children, their demons even don't want them!
After the introduction to the main characters, we get to see some of the basics of the exorcism, and what will be happening. We also get the new assistant's back story, giving us some idea why he wants to help save this girl. The film takes its time, this one does not rush, and they try to create a very creepy atmosphere regarding the demon and the possessed girl. Once we get down to the exorcism proper, there are a few scary moments and gross moments, as all demons must puke out vile things.
All in all it wasn't a bad movie, but it just did not really do anything for me. It just felt sort of standard and not special at all, the characters were OK, but not fully developed, and the whole thing felt all too familiar and overplayed. It did look good, and there were a few scary moments, but nothing that would make me recommend this film to anyone. The Wailing, while a bit long and less straightforward and very confusing, was more entertaining overall.
6 out of 10 stars.