Post-Apocalyptic Sci-fi horror. “Vampires have always been with us.” In the future, after the vampire threat has been nullified by the Church’s vampire warrior priests, life is back to normal, and those warrior priests are put back into normal life by the Church. Their vampire hunting is made illegal so that people will feel safe again in their walled in dystopic grungy city. Meanwhile, the vampires have been growing far away in huge hives. And they have been planning a takeover feast of the city. So, when vampire hunter Priest, played with stoic coolness by Paul Bettany, discovers his niece has been captured by vampires in order to turn her, he goes to rescue her against the commands of the Church, which is trying to lull everyone into an institutional sense of safety. So Priest becomes an outlaw.
This movie is what used to be called “anti-clericalism,” that is an attack on the institutional church in favor of individualistic spirituality. The phrase that is repeated multiple times throughout the film in order to make the point is, “To go against the church is to go against God.” Another phrase spoken by the high priests: “To question the authority of the clergy is absolutely forbidden.” This is an obvious reflection of the Roman Catholic Medieval Church’s phrase, “There is no salvation outside the Church.” But this is not quite so simple as an anticlerical call to Protestant Reformation of the priesthood of all believers, because the Priest at first decides that if he is going against God to save his niece, then he will give up on God. So he saves the day and destroys the vampires who reflect original sin because “they are what nature made them to be.”
The Priest concludes, “Out power does not come from the Church, it comes from God. With or without clergy, we’re still priests.” So, the theme is a confusing mixture of individualistic spirituality and anticlericalism with the residue of Protestant Reformed notions. Quite a bit different from say Martin Luther, who affirmed obedience to the authority of the Church as long as he possibly could until he was forced to deny his conscience, at which point he then asserted that God is the ultimate authority over even the Church. The Reformation may have resulted in creating an individualist piety that we suffer from today, but it did not necessarily start out that way. Still the resonances are there for a rather positive Protestant worldview.