An odd but terrifying combination of Eastern and Western exorcism films
by Martin Hafer
If you look at the IMDd page for The Priests, you’ll find that the summary really isn’t what this film is about at all. Ignore it! Instead, the film is an interesting combination of Western films, exorcism films combined with Eastern sensibilities. This combination is an interesting one and the movie by Jae-hyun Jang is well worth your time.
When the film begins, a young Catholic priest in South Korea is trying to exorcise a demon from a young girl. However, soon something expected occurs and the girl dives from her hospital window. Despite the horrible fall, she is still alive and is in a coma where she remains off and on for years—all the while the demon remains trapped within her. The priest makes it his life’s work to rid her of the demon but he is so far unsuccessful. As for his assistants, they all end up leaving the case…unable to cope with the horrible fight against evil. Soon, assistant number 11 is assigned to help. Can he manage to sum up the internal strength and together they rid the world of this evil? And, once the demon leaves the girl, what exactly are they to do with it?! That is a problem they really forgot to plan for in The Exorcist!
As I just mentioned the film, at times, The Priests clearly feels like The Exorcist. Fortunately, it is not some cheap Korean copy or reworking of the Hollywood picture and differs in many, many ways. Because it’s an Asian film, it integrates quite a bit of Eastern religion and mysticism as well. You’ll see shamans, salt used for purification and many other non-Western elements within the film. You also have some amazing special effects as well as an ending that is nothing like the more familiar Hollywood version. Additionally, the story works very well and it will keep you on the edge of your seat! Plus, the ending really is awfully intelligent and offers an excellent pay-off. Well worth seeing and I look forward to more films from Jae-hyun Jang.