By now, we have seen several narratives exploring the themes of exorcism to build a horror landscape for their movies. The Exorcist is perhaps the most well-known example that went on to grab an Oscar nod. The new Lionsgate studio movie – ‘Prey for the Devil,’ directed by Daniel Stamm, uses the same subject to present its psychological elements in an intriguing manner. The story written by Robert Zappia, Earl Richey Jones, and Todd R. Jone puts the character of a nun at the center of its narrative to illustrate the topic of demonic forces causing pain and suffering to the characters. The film stars Jacqueline Byers, Colin Salmon, Christian Navarro, and Posy Taylor in the lead roles.
Prey for the Devil (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis
Due to the rise of demonic possessions, it falls upon the church to start teaching the process of exorcism. Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) is a nun who becomes a part of Boston Exorcism School, which examines people possessed by demons. When Ann was fairly young, she lost her mother because of a demon that possessed her and forced her to hit her own daughter. As a result, she is keenly interested to learn exorcism and holy rites and be a part of their curriculum. However, nuns have never been allowed to perform an exorcism and are only supposed to care for patients.
As a result, she is initially forbidden from studying it. Upon seeing her talent for empathizing with the victims of these demons, Father Quinn (Colin Salmon) gives her a chance to be a part of this class. In this school, psychologists & theorists are asked first to perform their own experiments, and the priests enter only after permission from the church for exorcism. During her first encounter with a possessed person in her class, she comes across 10-year-old Natalie (Posy Taylor). Since she is a novice, Father Dante (Christian Navarro) and another student are asked to enter the room instead, and they both fail to perform the ritual successfully.
Even when Father Quinn enters, he gets attacked by Natalie. That is when Ann enters the room and manages to calm this young girl by empathizing with her fear. The priests are thankful that she saved their lives, and after earning a seat in this class, she starts navigating the roots behind what causes the demons to possess these people. Through her time at this school, she begins to get haunted by demons inside some of the patients, who use her traumatic childhood to get inside her mind. Still, it is more specifically Natalie’s presence that brings the painful memories from her (Ann’s) past back to the forefront and makes her confront them.
What is Ann’s traumatic past, and how is it related to Natalie?
As a child, Ann got pregnant by someone she had no knowledge of. Soon after her mother’s death, she was taken to a foster home to live with a temporary family. However, they let go of her when she got drunk, had unprotected sex, and found herself on the streets. Ann got rescued by a group of nuns in those conditions, who decide to give away her baby. Later, she decided to become a nun herself. However, the feeling of guilt still envelope her mental landscape.
Through her subsequent research on the patients, Ann learns that Natalie is possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother and decides to find a way out through this living hell and fight the demons by being a warrior of God. She also notices that they invite the demons in by themselves with intense feelings of guilt, shame, fear, or remorse.
She soon meets Emilia (Cora Kirk), Father Dante’s sister, and performs an exorcism on her. Emilia had an abortion because she was raped, which makes her guilty of not following the laws of the Holy Church. Ann manages to relieve her from this sense of guilt and lets the demon escape. However, soon after that incident, Emilia commits suicide, leaving both sister Ann and Father Dante in distress.
Who is Natalie? What is her relationship with Sister Ann?
Sister Ann abandons the school and goes back to the convent. However, after a terrifying incident involving Natalie, she is asked to return to school. During this time, Natalie killed three people and gave a crucifix to Dante – the same one that Ann gave to her daughter before parting. As a result, Ann realizes that Natalie is her daughter. Currently, she is held captive in the school basement, where old witches & possessed people were held in the past. This basement also has a pool of holy water that supposedly has cleansing powers to save people’s souls by drowning in it.
Prey for the Devil (2022) Ending Explained
Does Ann manage to save young Natalie and herself?
Upon entering this old cell, Natalie starts attacking both Ann & Dante. Since Ann is determined to do anything that is required save the young child, she decides to invite the demon into her own body. Natalie gets saved from the possession of this demon. However, the creature enters Ann’s body and goes after both of them to kill them. At this time, Ann goes through the memories from her past and realizes that her mother killed herself to save Ann from getting hurt any further.
She knew that the demon would keep finding ways to hurt Ann, and thus, she decided to end her life to save her young Annie. Soon after this realization, she attempts to drown herself in the holy writer to save her soul from the possession. Right after the evil spirit is destroyed, Dante decides to perform a holy rite of exorcism upon her and resurrects her. She manages to save both Natalie and her from the demon.
While both return to school, she does not reveal their relationship to young Natalie. Because of this success, she gets a scholarship to study demonology and became the first female exorcist in centuries. However, after leaving the school, she is met with the army of hell while driving back to her place.
Even when she managed to get over this fear and guilt from her past, the creatures keep following her every step of the way. Perhaps, she still has more demons to fight and win over until she can say that it is finally over. While everything is presented through a lens of supernatural horror from the angle of god vs. demon, these elements present themselves as allegories for her unprocessed traumas – that she needs to confront to attain a semblance of normalcy.