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Prey for the Devil        review by Bobby Blakey

I love all things horror, but the one sub-genre that is the most hit and miss are those focused on hauntings and possession. When they work they are awesome, but sadly more often than not, they just don’t. The latest, Prey for the Devil from The Last Exorcism director Daniel Stamm and stars Jacqueline Byers, Colin Salmon, Christian Navarro, Lisa Palfrey, Nicholas Ralph, Ben Cross, and Virginia Madsen. Could this film offer something that helps it stand out or will it fail to possess the viewer?

Prey for the Devil follows Sister Ann who believes she is answering a calling to be the first female exorcist…but who, or what, called her? In response to a global rise in demonic possessions, Ann seeks out a place at an exorcism school reopened by the Catholic Church. Until now these schools have only trained priests in the Rite of Exorcism – but a professor recognizes Sister Ann’s gifts and agrees to train her. Thrust onto the spiritual frontline with fellow student Father Dante, Sister Ann finds herself in a battle for the soul of a young girl, who Sister Ann believes is possessed by the same demon that tormented her own mother years ago. Determined to root out the evil, Ann soon realizes that evil has been expecting her.

I knew little about this movie heading in outside of the type of film it was so was pleasantly surprised in the unique setting for it all. As opposed to the usual straight up exorcism the school of the clergy learning how to do them is an interesting place for the setting as well as seeing more than just random encounters. The addition of bringing a woman into the fold in an otherwise usual man role in these sorts of things opens up numerous story directions in relation to the church, equality and connections.

The cast is all strong with Byers leading the charge and carrying the heaviest load. She brings in all the emotional turmoil needed to make this characters issues work while still being a strong devoted character and not just a victim. The story is interesting despite it still being a bit by the numbers and not overly complicated to where it is all headed about halfway through. Thankfully that didn’t hurt the film much and still managed to entertain thanks to some creativity with the story and tone of it all. It is all familiar and not overly standout as anything new, but thanks to some small elements with the setting and characters it feels just fresh enough to entertain.

There are some cool moments with the exorcism’s, but wish they had gone more in. While it does work and entertain it never feels fully invested to push the boundaries that it could have to make something truly great. It still works, but wish they had just cut the cords loose and went all in to make something really terrifying. That being said that is just my experience and I have no doubt others might get freaked out by some of the visuals and direction so try it for yourself.

Check out Prey for the Devil available now on digital, 4K, Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate.

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