The Priests ("Geomeun Sajedeul")
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Official Selection: Udine Far East Film Festival 2016, Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2016, Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival 2016, New York Asian Film Festival 2016
“A refreshingly straightforward horror movie… the suspense and tension is kept high throughout” – Paul Bramhall, EASTERN KICKS
Even in this modern era of high technology, advanced medicine and predominant rationalism, demons — ancient entities hateful of God’s love for His children — stalk the shadows of our world. One has taken as its host a teenage girl in Seoul, South Korea. The girl’s parish priest, Father Kim, has been struggling to drive the demon out, an ongoing battle that has cost him a series of assistants. Though the Catholic Church wants no public association with the presumably archaic act of exorcism and has its suspicions about Father Kim, it nonetheless pairs the callous, borderline burnout up with Deacon Choi, a rebellious young seminarian. Lucky for them, only minor demonic manifestations ever happen in Korea, nothing that can’t be overcome quickly enough with a bible, a Bach CD, a piglet, and a tube of toothpaste… right?
There is a moment in THE PRIESTS in which Father Kim compares demons to criminals. That would make the clergymen who pursue and expose the unholy entities rather like cops, an analogy that THE PRIESTS explores to great effect. It’s got the bitter, loose-cannon veteran, the top brass that puts politics first, and the naïve young recruit who has to learn the ropes real fast if he’s going to make it through the night. The promising debut feature by writer/director Jang Jae-hyun boasts serious star power —partners Kim and Choi are played by no less than THE CHASER’s star Kim Yoon-seok and Kang Dong-won of SECRET REUNION, respectively — backed by a screenplay that’s scary and/or funny in just the right places, and smart the whole way through. Cue the Bach and grab your rosary beads!
— Rupert Bottenberg