Prey for the Devil

Prey for the Devil

In response to a global rise in demonic possessions, the Catholic Church reopens exorcism schools to train priests in the Rite of Exorcism. On this spiritual battlefield, an unlikely warrior rises: a young nun, Sister Ann. Thrust onto the spiritual frontline with fellow student Father Dante, Sister Ann finds herself in a battle for the soul of a young girl and soon realizes the Devil has her right where he wants her.

  • Released: 2022-10-28
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Genre: Horror, Thrillers
  • Stars: Jacqueline Byers, Virginia Madsen, Ben Cross, Colin Salmon, Christian Navarro, Nicholas Ralph, Lisa Palfrey, Tom Forbes, Velizar Binev, Owen Davis, Debora Zhecheva, Cora Kirk, Posy Taylor, Elizabeth Gibson
  • Director: Daniel Stamm
  • erhanipekciler - 19 December 2023
    It is ok.
    Super cliche, super predictable and ordinary exorcist movie. I am sure everybody watched many different versions of that... In middle of the movie, it is so obvious what is the relation between Annie and Natalie. I will not say I am so scared in every scenes and moreover I don't know why but final scene made me laugh so much. ( in taxi) it looks second part can come ( or maybe not) do I watch? Yes, of course because I love this genre. Anyway, final words about movie ; it is ok, you can watch without expectations probably I will forget in a month and as other scary movies, I will ask myself 'did I watch that before?' it deserves 6/10.
  • I_Ailurophile - 28 September 2023
    Some value, and recognizable hard work, but just not enough. And maybe I'm being too nice.
    I feel like this demands a great deal from us as an audience right from the outset. The idea of a global epidemic of demonic possession, requiring the proliferation of "schools of exorcism," portends a film of a more wildly fantastical bent, more of an action-horror romp - like 2005's 'Constantine,' but on steroids. This is reflected in the state of the art facility in which we find protagonist Ann working as the plot begins - exorcism school, research facility, and hospital, the Catholic equivalent in this universe of Marvel's "Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters," replete with a veritable armory. To this add emphasis of the sexism in the church, comparison of priests and nuns to surgeons and nurses, and the suggestion nearly from the start that Ann is basically a Catholic superhero waiting for the opportunity to exercise and hone her powers. None of this is so severe a mark against this feature as to instantly disqualify it, but 'Prey for the devil' immediately builds layer after layer of contrivance that's hard to swallow, like a sandwich that's stuffed so full that we genuinely can't fit it into our mouths.

    And, well, the situation doesn't improve. If Ann is our superhero in training, her superhero squad is rounded out by best friends and teammates Dante and Raymond, mentor Quinn, and secondary support figure Dr. Peters. In that first major scene, closing out the first third, in which we see a possession victim (possessee? Exorcism candidate? Exorcism hopeful?), the scene is flush with ideas and visuals that, dispensed carefully, sparingly, and judiciously, should be chilling and disturbing. Here they are presented so bluntly, one after another - with digital wizardry that is a smidgen too transparent - that the inclusions nearly elicit laughter, and this will continue to be the case throughout these ninety minutes. The hair and makeup artists did good work, yet their labor was bent toward inappropriate ends as lead Jacqueline Byers especially, but also supporting cast members like Christian Navarro, look too much like hot young models instead of, you know, a nun, or a priest. The dialogue and scene writing are pointedly unsubtle and forthright (noticeably controverting a pronounced line in the script, "You said yourself that exorcism is about nuance"); the direction feels flat.

    There are fantastic ideas here. Shed the excess and indulgences, and the framing of Mutant School - I'm sorry, I mean Exorcism School - and the real core of the tale is in Ann's insights and outsider perspective that allow possible inroads, otherwise not considered by bureaucracy establishment, into combating demonic possession. She's a renegade, in her own right, and so are her friends who sympathize with and help her in a "patient first" approach to her practice. That Ann should be a special target of demons in any way can be waved off as the convention of cinematic protagonists as much as her superhero status, but that's no especial fault of this title, and nor is the fact that Ann's character arc and the overall thrust of the narrative draw equally from comic book movies and any picture that tells the tale of pioneers in a given field. And hey, for what it's worth, I see the skill of the actors, and look forward to seeing bigger and better things from Byers, Navarro, and the others; the art direction is outstanding, if sometimes a little too grandiose and overt. 'Prey for the devil' boasts strong production values, and a fine original score.

    And still the fact remains that the best ideas this has to offer just aren't treated especially well. Those moments that could be jarring and disturbing hold no power. The climactic sequence is generally handled much better than the preceding length as the material is finally approached with a more delicate hand, and some of the desired genre thrills do manifest - though at that point it feels like too little, too late. Though broadly solid, in its fundamental conception (writing and otherwise) this feels emptily imitative, and therefore less than fully engaging. I recognize the skill, intelligence, and hard work of all involved, but at length the viewing experience is fairly light, something we can "watch" without being entirely invested in the goings-on. This so unfortunate, and I feel guilty even saying it, because I see what everyone poured into it. At this point I must reiterate more plainly that I don't think this is altogether bad, but it simply doesn't carry enough of its own strength to see it through, and at its worst - even the very, very end - it's so downright tawdry that I wonder if I'm not being too kind.

    You could do worse. But with so many other things to watch, why bother at all? I'm glad for those who get more out of 'Prey for the devil' than I do, but unless you're a big fan of someone involved, this isn't something that demands viewership.
  • iceman-johnson - 8 January 2023
    i'd rather be possessed than watch this again.
    A very box standard exorcism movie with a terrible plot, very lame visual effects and extremely pradictable jump scares. And the twist was pathetic.

    I found the main character very unlikable and her actions to be over the top. I get they were trying to make the character a bit rebellious by her wearing dr marten boots under her robes, giving sick children secret sweets and her sneaking into exorcism class that's only meant for the fellas but all i got from her character was she was very disrespectful unless she got what she wanted and personally i thought she came across as very childish and unlikable. She is a nun and knows the ways of the church but she answers back her mother superior, steals classified documents and goes against any warnings given to her by people higher up and not once is she punished and only given a small telling off for causing somebody's death and instead of realistically thrown out the church for being insubordinate. She's also constantly held in high regard by everybody because apparently and has a gift.

    The gift she apparently has is being super nice and telling the possessed its ok to feel shame. In the hundreds of years the church has dealt with exorcisms not once did anybody think of telling the possessed in a calm voice its ok ....sure.

    There's nothing that really stands out about her from anybody else but everybody around her wont stop kissing her butt for some odd reason and keep stating she has something special and is amazing when she's never really shown doing anything that proves it apart from talking down a demon....who never really left and came back worse!!!

    Talking about the people around her, they all seem completely useless in this film. You could pull every character out of this movie except the lead and the little girl and get the same result. They are only there to be in the background or to highlight how great the lead is.

    They just seem to pop in and out of scenes every so often to praise or ask for help from the lead.

    I was really expecting after the lead kept answering back to her mother superior and things got a bit tense with them that this would anger the mother superior and she would become an antagonist and would try her hardest to sabotage our leads mission to become an exorcist because she still believes in the old ways of the church, but no. She ends up praising the lead and tells father quinn she apparently worries about her...sure.

    They also seem to set up some characters as foes with our lead but then in a heartbeat they like her for no reason.

    The little girl is not scary and im sure its her first acting role as well because she was just terrible. Pulling stupid faces and stretching your mouth wide while bogging your eyes just looks stupid and not remotely scary. The crappy cgi they added to her made it even worse and you can tell they even noticed this themselves and Eventually they just dressed her up as a cosplay regan and tell her to stand there growling, it was really cringe and nobody would think she was frightening or intimidating even young teenagers.

    Now onto father, ex gang member turned priest dante. They couldn't emasculate a character anymore if they tried. I mean this guy was so useless it hurt to watch. 95% of the time he just stood there looking scared or crying and constantly had to be prompted by the lead to do stuff, the other 5% of the time he's making smiley faces to the lead like he's in awe of her even though she's done absolutely nothing to gain this awe. I honestly thought he had a crush on her but no, he just really liked her because apparently she's special.... sure.

    Father Quinn played by colin salmon is great in this and his voice is fantastic but he is very underused and hes also smitten by the lead Just Like father dante. He just seems to only stand there or appear to add little bits to the story. He rarely really puts his foot down or takes control in what's going like a normal teacher would or should do, he just seems to let the lead do what she wants. It would have been better if we saw there was a bit of a push and shove situation between him and the lead where they eventually see eye to eye but noooo, once again he just likes her because shes amazing for some reason.

    Virginia madsen also makes and appearance in this playing the church psychiatrist who also has every other characters traits. She is also smitten with the lead for no reason and really does nothing but pop in and out to praise the lead.

    Spoilers.... so It turns out that the little girl is the daughter of our lead and is the result of a one night stand she had when she was like 15 . How do we know this? Did she take a DNA Paternity test? Find some Hospital or adoption papers or records that prove this? Nope.

    The little girl gave father dante some rosary beads after she killed everybody in an ambulance. And they were the same as the ones that our lead gave her daughter when she put her up for adoption. Years before. This is apparently enough evidence to know that this child is her love child 100%. It's never even questioned or double checked, she's just absolutely convinced hands down that the girl is her child without any follow up even though she knows the possessed can manifest things at will and uses manipulation to trick anybody it meets. This is pretty much lore in the possessed movie/story genre so how she and even father dante just went with it is complete bullsh**t and seems completely out of character for our lead whos somebody who claims to see the angles that others don't.

    The part where she "exorcises" father dantes sister who then goes on to commit suicide is another part that makes absolutely no sense and shows that all the characters act completely off. Father dantes mum complains to the church about our leads pathetic attempt at a exorcism and she's summons to the high priest with the big ears where all the church cast are. Shes told that her actions caused father dantes sisters death because she thought she cured her so nobody kept an eye on her and she commited suicide.this was not an exorcism sanctioned by the church and It's not mentioned but that leaves them wide open to being sued by father dantes mother. Instead of going all fire and brimstone on her they give our lead a small dressing down and then she tells THEM what's going to be her punishment and thats shes going back to another nunnery and they all just accept it.... try that at your job if your on the verge of being fired for being insubordinate and see what happens lol.

    In the end as our lead eventually takes the demon from the little girl and now shes possesed with it and apparently her mum is haunting her and telling her to fight the demon.. our lead trusts this advice from this voice who sounds like the women who brutally abused her as a child and she pulls herself into a pool of holy water they had in a crypt in the bottom of the school. This somehow stops her being possessed and father dante pulls her out before she drowns and she of course lives.

    Here's the problem. Did nobody ever think of dunking one of these possessed people in the holy water in the hundreds of years its been there or does it only work if you fight your own demons at the same time or do you need to have the ghost of a schizophrenic person there with you?

    Afterwards everything and everyone is fine and once again everybody takes a minute to praise our lead and tell her how special she is and how proud they are and she also gets a promotion to the vatican ....sure.

    She takes a cab to go to the airport and while sitting in traffic she spots an elderly women just standing in the street staring her this is followed by a mass of quick cut shots and a possessed guy appears in the taxi next to her and the elderly women is now at the window and she reaches for her cross like shes packing heat and holds it up like she's about unload some biblical bullets in them pesky demons but then its cuts to black and the movie ends.

    I honestly can't see anybody finding this interesting ,scary or thought provoking,the story and twist is trash and it uses jumpscares to a unprecedented scale, i swear there's like one every few seconds and the big ones you can see a mile off. The lead comes of as a smug know it all and the rest of the cast only seem to be there to suck up to her. There were points in the film that seemed like they were going in another direction but nothing ever came of it. Maybe if they had elaborated on this points and made some sort of subplot out of them and make the story a bit more complex there would be a better more fleshed out movie.

    If you enjoy paranormal films this might be one to give a miss they really lost focus on the story by trying to make a point that really didn't need to be made. I'm not going to elaborate on this point but im sure you now what they were pushing for.

    Its a 2 star rating from me.
  • jrvidal-91192 - 26 December 2022
    There's Potential
    After reading a few comments I felt that it was not just in the raiding. When it comes to the production of scary movies it never hits the audience due to religious affiliations or there expectations of being scared not being met.

    The movie did a great job of introducing a powerful female protagonist. As she faces her past which comes to haunt her. Furthermore, the story did a great job of not taking every spiritual situation lightly. Which for me was a great point that is not met in other movies and felt more of an action movie.

    Not sure if that's what they were going for but I enjoyed every part of it and did not want to pull away.

    My point being that although the movie would not meet any thriller/horror lovers expectation. I still feel that the story was very fulfilling and the protagonist being very likeable. I would be excited to see another movie being made.
  • BijeshNagesh - 18 December 2022
    Surprisingly Engaging, But Tacky
    First Impressions: Though heavily stereotyped, the movie somehow managed to entertain and intrigue. I was taken in by the story in general, but not necessarily by some of the creative choices that comprised it. The filmmakers seemed to demand that people blindly believe in the spiritual tropes used in this movie instead of skilfully convincing them to do so.

    The Crew: Daniel Stamm did good work as director, but could've benefited from a more original script.

    Robert Zappia, Earl Richey Jones, and Todd R. Jones did 'okay' work on screenplay.

    Nathan Barr's musical scoring was great. It was the 'saving grace' of this movie.

    Denis Crossan's cinematography was notable.

    Hair-makeup and production design were quite good.

    Elena Stoyanova's costume design was good.

    Art direction and set decoration were also good.

    Stunts and editing were amazing.

    VFX and sound effects were great.

    The Cast: Jacqueline Byers as Sister Ann was captivating.

    Debora Zhecheva as the younger version of Ann was remarkable.

    Posy Taylor as Natalie was notable.

    Christian Navarro as Father Dante was great.

    Colin Salmon as Father Quinn was quite good.

    Nicholas Ralph as Father Raymond was good.

    Virginia Madsen as Dr. Peters was memorable.

    Lisa Palfrey as Sister Euphemia was great.

    Cora Kirk as Emilia was good.

    Ben Cross as Cardinal Matthews was noteworthy.

    Plot Summary & Analysis: "Prey for the Devil" had a gripping flow. However, being a fan of the occult and horror genre, I found too many misogynistic and overly Catholic elements in the story. It seemed to want to impress modern audiences, only it ended up reminding us of all the things we should shed as a society if we are to move forward in it.

    I did not like the way they approached the feminist angle at all in the movie. It fell short of being empowering and came across as superficial.

    The plotline seemingly disparaged medicine and the work doctors, including psychiatrists, do. Instead, the story in "Prey for the Devil" appeared to keenly emphasize the modern need for exorcisms as if they were approved science.

    The plot centred around a nun named Ann (played by Jacqueline Byers), who was in the unprecedented position of becoming the first, though unofficial, female exorcist in the Catholic ranks.

    As a caregiver in an establishment called St. Michael the Archangel School of Exorcism (!), she encountered and helped plenty of patients on a daily basis. Such schools are indeed real, but this movie made their work feel terribly misplaced.

    One of the patients was a girl named Natalie (played by Posy Taylor) who soon started to show dangerous signs of being possessed. While Posy Taylor gave off some nice Linda Blair vibes worth appreciating, her sequences felt too clich├ęd and obvious for me to admire.

    Adding to the mystery was a familiar song that haunted Ann's waking moments. It was made worse by the possibility that the same demon that once possessed Ann's mother (played by Koyna Ruseva) was back to threaten her through the little girl Natalie.

    I found the demon's story arc too long-winded and phony, as if made up purely to suit the movie's core narrative. The same demon that possessed Ann's mother coming back after all those years to apparently try and claim Ann herself, and at a time when Ann was being inducted into the Catholic exorcism school, all felt too deliberate and on the nose. A little originality here could have gone a long way.

    Some of the occult lore and facts that Father Quinn (played by Colin Salmon) conveyed weren't up to snuff. It was too familiar and evident, with nothing new or definitively scary to keep me on the edge of my seat. This creative (rather, non-creative) choice did not help shore up the motivations of some of the core characters.

    The 'unauthorized exorcism' of Emily by Ann and Dante (Emily's brother) was one of the better scenes in the movie. It had an emotional angle and a compelling demon-possession raison d'etre. But even here, some portions made me feel Emily could have used a doctor rather than an exorcist.

    The bizarrely slapped-on reveal that Natalie was Ann's daughter, whom she had out of wedlock and gave away years ago, made me roll my eyes. That Natalie herself would be released, relapse, kill a few people along the way back to the exorcism school, and then show a rosary that Ann had wrapped around her wrist before she was given up for adoption, the demon later possessing Ann after taking a super-circuitous route to do so, and then Ann initiating an internal fight for her own salvation... It all felt too contrived, like puzzle pieces bent and broken into a shape that would fit the jigsaw.

    Such instances became my primary issues with "Prey for the Devil". Though the movie drew me in, it failed to make me believe that what I was seeing was real and not some stereotyped superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

    Final Notes: I am all for a great demon-possession movie, but the way they went about this particular one felt forced, not to mention stereotyped, for me to truly connect with the characters and their motives.

    As mentioned before, I felt the filmmakers were demanding me to believe in the veracity of the exorcist-related claims rather than skilfully convincing me of their practical worth in the world today. I guess we're all just a little too "woke" now to surrender to tropes like these with ease.

    Good performances, neat editing, and great musical scoring were some of the core elements that helped keep this ship afloat. The pacing, on the other hand, was terribly rushed. They often delivered too much too soon. This was where screenplay and direction could have really worked their magic, but alas.

    Lastly, the style of "Prey for the Devil" was, in all fairness and honesty, quite engaging. It made me sit through the movie, at any rate. I also felt the need to know how exactly "Prey for the Devil" was going to end. And in this resided the movie's only real salvation.
  • arthurbcruzx - 15 December 2022
    It is God who commands you, it is I who commands you...
    It has been one of the best exorcisms films I have seen in a long time. A great applause to Jaqualine Byers, who strongly carried the film in its entirety. The script rolled as equal to a more expensive film budget; the cameras had the proper response; the acting coordinated in tune with the all the events that followed. I would have liked to see more of the supernatural phenomena between religion and psychology, and interaction between a reality of good and evil that is instilled in us. This is a sorrowful story of a raped woman that that gives into the temptations of evil and not knowing the outcomes. This could happen to anyone, however, without the sorrowful consequences. Although the script should have committed more occult mysticism to balance the Christian doctrines of exorcism and the attempt of expulsion of an evil entity from a person. I appreciated the awaited twist toward the end that confirms the nuns godsent strength and makes her convictions an honest persuasion of her own perceptions but, "Now that you know the devil, the devil knows you!"
  • pajser92 - 30 November 2022
    Ideal for fans of jumpscares and tense and creepy feels
    This movie will give you chills.

    First off, I was really determined to go and see this movie, just because it received such negative reviews. As someone who is not considering movies like Saw, and Texas Chainsaw horror movies just because of the sole nature of those kind of movies, they rely on blood, gore, and sick twisted brutalities, I must say that I was more than satisfied with Prey for the Devil.

    Personally, Conjuring, Insidious, Smile, Oculus, Annabelle: Creation. Sinister, and other movies that are based on creepy story and jumpscares are the real represents of HORROR genre.

    Now lets get to this movie.

    Story: It is not a fresh one, but rather interesting, we find interesting details regarding characters along the way.

    Jumpscare: There are couple unpredictable scenes, and it makes this movie worth of watching if you are after that tense and creepy feel.

    Picture: Great atmosphere and nice lack of contrast is something that makes this movie perfectly fit in horror genre.

    Spoler ALERT - Sound: There is only one detail I had problem with. When the girl with half face appears, she is talking like she isnt missing half of the mouth, nose, cheek, which really makes it feel "unreal".

    This is a solid 9/10, considering that 10/10 for my taste are above mentioned art pieces.
  • UniqueParticle - 17 November 2022
    It's at least above average
    I would agree with someone else I was expecting more but it has a few great parts the rest is just ok. Jaqualine Byers and the supernatural are defiantly the best aspects! I'm lucky I have the regal subscription cause I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. I'm nice about my reviews I think Pray for the Devil was solid for what it is, has a great story and awesome horror moments! Nice that Virgina Madsen is still going strong in horror she was best in Candyman and Ben Cross passed away in the last couple years I don't know why there wasn't a rest in piece for him. Solid for horror fans that's for sure.
  • annabellemenardi-75721 - 5 November 2022
    VFX were great, story a little confusing
    I watched this today at the cinema and honestly it wasn't all that bad. I do think that certain parts didn't make much sense (like when ann literally folds in half like a garden chair, then when we see her again she's walking around just fine, but i guess that's just movie logic). Some scenes definetly scared me, like with natalie when the demon literally makes her eat her own hair, and then a whole bloody hand pops out, THAT scared me.

    The story wasn't the best i've seen, but it was alright for what it's worth. Personally i feel like some things needed to be explained more, but i can brush by those facts.

    I'm a sucker for great vfx, and this film definitely delivers on that. Some bits were a bit questionable but it was alright overall.