Film Review: Prey for the Devil – 5/10

‘The demon preys on the most devout because of our guilt…’

When will it end? 2023 brought us The Pope’s Exorcist, Evil Dead Rise and The Exorcist: Believer. Although one can count on one hand the number of genuinely effective possession movies, they just keep coming. Prey for the Devil also dropped in 2023, and as with all of the above (aside from Evil Dead Rise), it’s bringing nothing new to the table…

Ann (Jacqueline Byers) is a devout Catholic nun with designs on becoming an exorcist. There could have been some interesting stuff here about a woman infiltrating a male-dominated world but director Daniel Stamm chooses to ignore this potentially compelling subtext in favour of the most route one plotting imaginable. As with all the jumpscares, every plot beat here is signposted and telegraphed to the point that the third act ‘twist’ is barely worthy of the name.

It’s a shame because aside from the screenplay (credited to Robert Zappia, Earl Richey Jones and Todd R. Jones) this is not an incompetent film. Byers delivers an impassioned and authentic performance in the lead role (when not being asked to deliver decidedly hokey dialogue) and some of the possession sequences are fairly inventive. The problem is that we have seen all this before, so many times.

As with almost every possession movie outside of the Evil Dead franchise, these reviews always end the same way – the problem here is that The Exorcist is such a masterpiece that every other possession movie since feels redundant. Prey for the Devil (terrible title, by the way) is no exception.