© Telepool/24 Bilder

The Devil's Light (Prey for the Devil)
U.S.A. 2022

Opening 3 Nov 2022

Directed by: Daniel Stamm
Writing credits: Robert Zappia, Todd R. Jones, Earl Richey Jones
Principal actors: Jacqueline Byers, Virginia Madsen, Christian Navarro, Colin Salmon, Nicholas Ralph

Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) is on loan to St. Michael’s in Boston, Massachusetts, one of countless exorcism schools the Vatican reopened since their closures in 1835. The rise in demon possessions worldwide is alarming, therefore more Catholic priests are needed to perform the rite. Among Sister Ann’s duties is caring for patients; one of the newer cases is adolescent Natalie (Posy Taylor). Ann’s gentle caring attitude, delivered with a healthy dose of humor, seals their budding friendship – “us girls have to stick together.” What is not on her schedule but where Ann audits every chance, is Fr. Quinn’s (Colin Salmon) class on exorcism. Eventually, her presence is acknowledged, and recognizing Sr. Ann’s natural aptitude with Fr. Quinn’s encouragement it is sanctioned by Cardinal Mathew (Ben Cross) and Sister Euphemia (Lisa Palfrey). Concurrently, Ann utilizes one of the school’s modernizations, i.e., Dr. Peters (Virginia Madsen). A good listener, they delve into her past: her mother (Koyna Ruseva), herself (Debora Zhecheva) and the personal antechamber of evilness. At the forefront of putting theories into practice, Fathers Dante (Christian Navarro) and Raymond (Nicholas Ralph) and Sr. Ann enter the school’s catacombs in trepidation, particularly trying to keep the devil at bay.

Director Daniel Stamm’s heavy-handed method assures audiences will jump in their seats, and possibly makes the best of Robert Zappia and Todd R. Jones’ screenplay. The cast is good, as are production values, if not overly exaggerated when the demonical lurks. The head-twists and backbends cannot compare with the chilling 1973 The Exorcist and, fair dues to the trio’s updating a popular culture favorite: diabolic possessions Catholic priests Rite of Exorcism (might) repel. However, a more thought-provoking screenplay would have used current exorcisms: in 2020, after months of racial tension in Portland, Oregon, USA, an exorcism was performed in a city park. On the same day in a church in San Rafael, California, after the desecration of a statue, another exorcism was performed to drive out any remaining evil spirits. Still, if you have a penchant for fright The Devil’s Light could be right up your alley. (Marinell Haegelin)

Second Opinion

When I told my teenage daughter that I would be reviewing this film, she wailed with envy. Evidently the trailer has been all over TikTok for some time, and all the kids are just gaga to see it and, judging by the trailer, they’re in for a scary treat. Alas, they are not. Every scary moment is in the trailer. Really.

A pretty young nun is haunted by memories of her abusive mother, who the nun believes to have been, in fact, possessed by the devil (non-spoiler: she was). Furthermore, the nun has reason to believe that she was, and is, the devil’s actual target, and he’s still after her. She aspires to become an exorcist, a weird profession that’s apparently just a guy thing until a sympathetic priest allows her into his classroom at Hogwart’s School of Sundry Arcana and Exorcism (okay, I made the name up but it’s basically that). Once she has her foot in the door, the nun demonstrates the power of the feminine touch on possessed unfortunates, in particular one angelic/demonic little girl. There is a deep, dark secret in the nun’s past that makes her vulnerable, which I’m sorry to say I saw coming from a mile away. There are gross special effects that recall every possession movie you’ve ever seen, starting with The Exorcist (spinning head, anyone?) and otherwise it’s all run-of-the-mill jump scares. And does the devil get the poor nun in the end? It's IN THE TRAILER! (Mason Jane Milam)

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