The power of 4K compels you! The power of 4K compels you! Armed with an interesting concept, Prey for the Devil takes the tried and tired exorcism sub-genre and unfortunately recycles the same old scares. But it looks beautiful in 4K Dolby Vision with a richly creepy Atmos track to match! You might think it’s scary, or you might just think it’s funny. Worth A Look
Demonic possessions are on the rise across the planet and trained Exorcists are in short order. To meet this devilish force head-on, the Catholic church has reopened schools for priests to get their Bachelor’s in the Exorcism Arts and care for the afflicted. But young Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) finds herself on the front lines when a particular demon that attacked her mother targets her. Now with the backing of Father Quinn (Colin Salmon) and Cardinal Matthews (Ben Cross), Sister Ann will become a full-fledged Exorcist to fight the demon that has tormented her since she was a child.
Now with a David Gordon Green-fronted return to The Exorcist in production, we’re in for a whole heaping mess of demonic possession/exorcism films. The latest and not greatest is Prey for the Devil, a beautifully shot horror flick with an interesting take on old material that just misses the mark. Usually in a movie like this, whenever a woman is the target of a demon, it’s some uber-handsome priest that comes to the rescue slathered with a thick serving of sexual tension. But to the credit of Halloween: H20 writer Robert Zappia and director Daniel Stamm, our leading lady isn’t a damsel in distress waiting to be “preyed” upon by the Devil. That at least is something unique. Sadly that’s about all that’s unique here.
Pretty much from the jump, if you’ve seen any of the five films (so far) in The Exorcist franchise, or Exorcism of Emily Rose, or the dozen The Conjuring films, the setup and scares are simple retreads of what we’ve already seen. And replays would be fine if they were scary. The other hit knocking this film is a lot of these scares are just funny. Unintentionally funny, but I found myself laughing more than recoiling. The film briefly tries to explore the mental illness aspect of possession and exorcisms but instead takes the easy way out.
All credit is due to the great cast for working overtime to sell this show. Jacqueline Byers stands tall as our warrior nun in the demonic arts. She carries a lot of the load and brings some real intensity to the film. Supporting cast like Colin Salmon, Ben Cross, and Virginia Madsen are all Horror genre veterans and they help prop up the show. Prey for the Devil isn’t great, it isn’t terrible, it simply passes the time and is almost instantly forgettable.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Prey for the Devil curses 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a two-disc 4K + Blu-ray + Digital set from Lionsgate. The 4K is pressed on a BD-66 disc with the 1080p scoring a Region A BD-50. The discs are housed in an eco-friendly two-disc case with slipcover art. The disc loads to a standard menu with basic navigation options.
Prey for the Devil afflicts 4K Ultra HD with an overall pleasing 2160p Dolby Vision transfer. Details are sharp and clean with rich textures, facial features, and makeup effects. The film may be very dark with bright whites and deep dark shadows - apparently, the Vatican doesn’t spring for bright lights - but the film has a nice moody and creepy. Colors are often muted but there are plenty of lovely primaries in play. Blood gets the most attention in that regard. Comparing details between the Blu-ray and the 4K, there’s not much of an improvement. A Little sharper but not much to tip the scales in that regard. Where this presentation works over the 1080p disc is thanks to the Dolby Vision grading. The shadows, whites, and black levels pick up some extra refinements that outpace the SDR Blu-ray. Image depth is also much stronger here and given some of the creepier bits that comes in handy. It’s not the most complicated-looking flick, but it’s moody, atmospheric, and creepy.
A bigger highlight of this release is the Atmos track. Pretty much right from the jump the mix is aggressive and moves about the soundscape with a wide assortment of pinpoint sound effects. When the film is on the quieter side the mix uses the surrounds and height channels to establish atmosphere - the classroom scenes are a notable highlight there. But even in tightly confined spaces like hospital rooms and hallways, there’s active sound design in play to make each location feel immersive. Throughout the run, dialog is clean and clear without issue. Levels are on point without the need to adjust, but just watch out, those jump scare stingers come in loud and heavy!
Prey for the Devil is blessed with a fairly decent assortment of bonus features. At the top of the pack is a solid audio commentary featuring director Daniel Stamm and star Jacqueline Byers. After that there’s a fairly in-depth making-of featurette that covers a lot of the basics but is far better than the average EPK nonsense we’re so often served. Then there’s a “First Draft” read of the screenplay that is actually kinda interesting followed by a discussion between an Exorcist and a church psychologist. The movie may not be all that much, but there’s plenty of solid bonus features to dig into. The same set of bonus features appear on the 4K and Blu-ray discs.
If you caught the trailers for Prey for the Devil you got pretty much everything this film has to offer. If you only saw the creepy cool poster, the film never lives up to that startling imagery. An interesting concept with a solid cast, the film depends on too many recycled scares we’ve seen many times over. The film comes home with a solid 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release featuring a strong Dolby Vision transfer, an effective Atmos track, and an assortment of informative bonus features. The disc is great, but for the film itself if you’re curious there are worse horror flicks out there. Worth A Look