The Priests (Geomeun Sajedeul)

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A young girl who belongs to Father Kim's parish becomes comatose after a hit-and-run accident. Father Kim and a rebellious young seminarian named Choi believe that she is possessed by an evil spirit. When they try to free her from the demon's powerful hold, they realize that this nameless evil is far more dangerous than they ever thought.

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Critic Reviews for The Priests (Geomeun Sajedeul)

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Audience Reviews for The Priests (Geomeun Sajedeul)

  • Jul 17, 2018
    First things first, talk about a generic as shit title. The original title, or as it appears on Letterboxd rather, The Priests really doesn't give off any indication as to what its narrative may involve. Adding the 'Exorcism' bit makes everything a little more clear but, really, it makes everything feel a little more generic and not as intriguing. While 'The Priests' in and of itself doesn't give you a clue as to what it may entail other than, of course, there's some priests involved, I do think that it gives a bit of mystery and intrigue. Do you know how many 'The Exorcism of (fill name here)' movies there are out there. Because of that, this movie might get lost in the a vast sea of these crappy exorcism movies. That's neither here nor there, of course, but I thought it was worth pointing out. Another thing is the fact that, obviously, every horror movie about exorcism is gonna have one giant shadow looming over it like some sort of towering monster. And that shadow is, of course, the legend of The Exorcist. In my opinion, I don't think there's any other subgenre of film has this except for movies centered around exorcism. There's plenty of other great crime/mobster movies outside of The Godfather Parts I and II. GoodFellas, The Departed (which was, in and of itself, inspired by a great crime movie from Hong Kong, Infernal Affairs), The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, Scarface, Heat. I could go on and on. So, in reality, while a lot of these movies might not reach the same heights the first two Godfather films set, they're still great movies in their own right. I could go on and on about various genres and legendary films associated to that genre. Exorcism movies, on the other hand, have never really, in my opinion, ever gotten over the hump of The Exorcist. And I honestly have no idea why that is. It's a concept that, theoretically, should bring about a lot of scares and yet, from what I've seen, no one has come close to match The Exorcist's effectiveness as a demonic possession film. I found it funny, and infuriating at the same time, when this movie The Rite, another demonic possession movie with Anthony Hopkins, openly made fun of The Exorcist. And it's like, how fucking dare you? It's not that you can't poke fun at the movie, as plenty have throughout the years, it's just that you have no right to do so when your movie is fucking terrible, which The Rite was. If, at the very least, you made a good movie, then that'd be one thing. Because, again, you at least made a good movie. When your movie sucks and you make fun of the 'big dog' in the genre your film might fall under, it comes across as if you feel like your shitty movie is superior. And there's nothing worse than when someone who hasn't done anything of any worth acts like they're hot shit and better than everyone else or, in this case, The Exorcist. That's neither here nor there, I suppose. Let's move on to this movie, shall we? To this film's credit, however, this didn't make fun of The Exorcist. This is an interesting movie because, as a reviewer pointed out in RottenTomatoes, this is a Korean take of a genre that is, predominantly, used in Western movies. Having said all of that, I think it follows a relatively predictable path for this type of movie. I mean, there's a scene where a shaman tries to remove the demon that is inhabiting and that is, as far as I can tell, the only really Korean thing in the movie. Everything else in the movie, honestly, doesn't really make use of the cultural differences as much as I would have hoped. I suppose that following two Catholic priests would sort of limit the scope of using your own culture to influence the proceedings of the exorcism itself. And, honestly, I think that's probably part of what held this movie back, in my opinion. It's a decidedly un-Korean movie. It's only Korean based on the fact that, naturally, it takes place in South Korean, features the language and it has South Korean actors. As far as differences in storytelling or a unique take on a predominantly Western genre, there really are none, in my opinion. This movie reminds me of The Wailing, another South Korean horror movie. And it's not that The Wailing is a straightforward possession movie, because it's got so much more on its mind than that. But there are similarities between the two and The Wailing destroys this movie in every possible category. The Wailing, in my opinion, is one of the most visually and thematically arresting horror movies I've ever seen. It's absolutely tremendous. And, obviously, it's not fair to hold this film to that high of a standard, but it's almost impossible not to compare the two. Having said that, however, the movie is decent enough, even if it lacks its own real identity. I think the biggest issue I have with this movie, outside of the aforementioned lack of identity, is the fact that the first hour or so is the preparation leading up to the exorcism. And, quite frankly, it's not that interesting. There are some intriguing angles set up here that, honestly, they do very little with. For example, Agatho is sent to work with Father Kim, who's run through ten deacons trying to exorcise this teenage girl that's like a daughter to him, in order for him to investigate what's actually going on. There are tape recordings that suggest that Father Kim has sexually molested Young-shin, the girl who's currently possessed. So, the archdiocese, I think, is sending Agatho in order to uncover the truth. Father Kim's relationship with Young-shin is shown, to give you an idea of how close he was to her. But how close was he actually to her??? Was it an abusive type of relationship??? You don't know. Is the 'demonic possession' a result of her being molested by this man of the cloth??? Are these mental health issues acting up??? There's actually some really interesting questions that this movie sets up but, again, they don't really bother to ask them. Well, they bother to ask them, but then they just refuse to give you any sort of answers to them because, ultimately, it turns into every exorcism movie you've ever seen. And, in my opinion, an exorcism movie that really isn't one is far more interesting than what we got. And, again, that's not to say that this movie was bad, it's actually fairly decent, but it's just that there's so many interesting road that the movie could go down that choosing the one most traveled is, quite frankly, a little disappointing. However, having said that, I did like Agatho's character arc. It's relatively simple, of course, but I did like it. Agatho, essentially, ran away when his little sister (he was like nine years old at the time) was mauled to death by this dog. So the guilt of having abandoned his sister has haunted him ever since he decided to take on this 'job' and, ultimately, you know where it's heading, with Agatho, during the exorcism itself, running away when things get too scary/dangerous before, eventually, coming to the realization that running away from his problems isn't gonna help the teen girl he's been assigned to help. Like I said, simple, but effective storytelling nonetheless. As far as the exorcism itself is concerned, it is very good, but I don't think it is ever great to the point where it pushes this movie forward into good territory. Park So-dam, who plays Young-shin, does a great job during these exorcism scenes. If you're a more casual viewer, she definitely does a great job at portraying herself as creepy and scary. Kim Yoon-seok and Gang Dong-won, Father Kim and Agatho respectively, are also very good and, ultimately, they help carry the film to the point it is, even if the script's predictability fails them. I don't know, I felt that this had the potential to be much more than it ended up being, given everything it sets up, but I still felt that this was a decent movie. There's some solid character development, the acting is strong and the exorcism is enjoyable. Shame that the film lacks its own real identity and the preparation for the exorcism, which takes up more than half of the movie, isn't terribly interesting. The character work between Agatho and Father Kim helps carry these incredibly dull moments. Not a bad movie in the slightest, just one that ended up being a little bit on the disappointing side.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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