PREY FOR THE DEVIL
(director/writer: Daniel Stamm; screenwriters: Robert Zappia, based on a story by Zappia, Earl Richey Jones, Todd R. Jones; cinematographer: Dennis Crossan; editor: Tom Elwell; music: Nathan Barr; cast: Christian Navarro (Father Dante), Jacqueline Byers (Sister Ann), Colin Salmon (Father Quinn), Nicholas Ralph (Father Raymond), Ben Cross (Cardinal Matthews), Virginia Madsen (Dr. Peters), Cora Kirk (Emilia), Konya Ruseva (Ann’s Mother), Posy Taylor (Natalie), Lisa Palfrey (Sister Euphemia); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Paul Brooks, Todd R. Jones, Earl Richey Jones, Jessica Malanaphy; Lionsgate; 2022)
“Dull, scare-free and absurd.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This Bulgaria-shot low-budget production (with shoddy production values) seems more like a disappointing TV show than a movie you would actually pay to see.
It rails against the archaic Catholic Church laws and of keeping women out of power positions in the church.
Directed by Daniel Stamm (“13 Sins”/”A Necessary Death”), who points out how bad church dogma can cause nuns to be stopped from doing things priests can do to save lives. It’s co-written by Stamm and Earl Richey Jones, Todd R. Jones, and by the story’s author Robert Zappia.
It’s another example of the many bad exorcism flicks that have followed the success of the 1973 “The Exorcist.” “Prey” is filled with cliches from “The Exorcist,” and fails to repeat its winning formula.
The wannabe “Exorcist” film is dull, scare-free and absurd.
The Boston residing Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) joins the Catholic Church’s fight to put a halt to the rising number of demonic possessions, as the Catholic Church offers priests classes on how to conduct exorcisms. Ann, as a nursing nun, learns how to assist the priest by sitting at the bedside of the possessed vics. But she disobeys the orders of the school’s Father Quinn (Colin Salmon) and tests her abilities to combat demons by getting involved with a demon possessed vic, as she works alongside the young Father Dante (Christian Navarro) and becomes respected because of her success in helping the possessed girl, Natalie (Posy Taylor). She thereby gets Vatican approval to do exorcisms–becoming the first nun trained in the rite of exorcism.
Natalie is seemingly possessed by the same demon that took Ann’s mother (quite a coincidence).
Through flashbacks, we learn Ann suffered from childhood abuse at the hands of her possessed mother, which was treated by the church as if her encounters with the Devil left her possessed and not as the shrinks suggested as if she had schizophrenic. The therapist treating Ann, Dr. Peters (Virginia Madsen), informs her the church has never come to terms with mental illness and still treats many illnesses as caused by the Devil.
Ann disavows the negativity from the rigid Devil believers in the church, like the headmaster Cardinal Matthews (played by the late Ben Cross), as she blends together her knowledge of pop psychology with the ability to deal with her “guilt” and “shame,” to become a whole person and healer.
REVIEWED ON 11/11/2022 GRADE: C+