Time Out says
Exorcism gets a Korean makeover in The Priests, a slick and sturdy, if simplistic, take on a popular horror standard. Folding in a measure of local melodrama to its younger protagonist’s backstory and transposing the action from sleepy suburbia to the bustling, neon-burnt nightscape of Central Seoul, this confidently-staged debut from Jang Jae-hyun, an expansion of his owns short 12th Assistant Deacon, comes together with strong leads and an engaging mise-en-scene.
An evil spirit finds its way to a young girl in Seoul and a grizzled deacon enlists a young seminarian to help him ward off the demon during a long night in a dingy room in a tucked away alley. Kim Yun-seok brings to bear the might of his craggy mien to the elder priest while Gang Dong-won effortlessly switches from cockiness to sensitivity as his young assistant. The leads, seen together before in 2009’s Woochi, play well independently but especially together as opposites who gradually understand how the other ticks.
Production values are strong across the board, but perhaps the film’s best below-the-line contribution comes from its composer, who employs a variety of musical styles, including the swelling chords of a church organ to boost the picture’s eery mood. Exorcism isn’t new to Korean cinema, but it’s always been linked to shamanism, which does appear in The Priests, in one of the film’s most striking scenes. It’s hardly The Exorcist, but Jang’s debut gets the job done and comes up roses in its strong matching of star casting and material.
BY: PIERCE CONRAN (PRODUCER AT 2Mr FILMS, FILM CRITIC)
Cast and crew