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Prey for the Satan’s Feminist Angle Fails Ladies

In most respects, Prey for the Satan is a reasonably customary possession film: a demon possesses a susceptible individual (on this case, a toddler); some scary stuff occurs; God’s warriors have to determine exorcise the demon. Wanting solely on the tough define, it is virtually interchangeable with significantly better motion pictures like The Exorcist and Insidious. The distinctive twist that Prey tries to take is a feminist angle–in the Catholic Church, solely male clergymen are allowed to carry out and even study exorcisms, however Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) is not about to let the patriarchy get her down. She believes she is named to contribute to this battle in opposition to Hell’s minions, and he or she’s keen to bend the principles to do it. Nevertheless, Prey‘s try and be progressive is finally hypocritical, because it locations the duty for demon possession on the possessed themselves.


In most exorcism motion pictures, the sufferer turns into possessed by no fault of their very own. Generally it is the results of shifting right into a haunted home, as in Insidious. Generally it is a consequence of coming into contact with a cursed object, as in Stigmata and Constantine. And generally the sufferer was simply within the mistaken place on the mistaken time, as in The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. However Prey for the Satan blames the sufferer for their very own possession.

RELATED: ‘Prey for the Satan’ Overview: Catholic Propaganda Disguised as a Cliche Horror Film

Initially, Sister Ann theorizes that individuals make themselves susceptible to possession as a result of they consider that they’re unworthy of God’s love. This isn’t so completely different from blaming abuse victims for staying with their abusers as a result of they’ve poor vanity, or as a result of the abusers have efficiently satisfied them that nobody else will love them. Ann believes that if she will merely persuade somebody that God does certainly nonetheless love them, they may be capable to expel the demon on their very own.

Punishing Ladies for Exerting Management

Picture through Lionsgate

Nevertheless, Ann’s idea will get known as into query after the failed try and exorcise Father Dante’s (Christian Navarro) sister, Emilia. The choice rationalization for her possession, although, is much more problematic. Dante reveals that Emilia was raped, turned pregnant, and selected to have an abortion. Both Sister Ann is appropriate, and Emilia now believes that due to her alternative, she is not worthy of God’s love, making her susceptible to possession; or the abortion itself made her susceptible to possession as a result of she dedicated a mortal sin and attracted the eye of Hell, inviting within the demon. Both approach, the film attracts a direct line between Emilia’s option to train management over her personal physique and her possession, and an oblique line between being raped and changing into possessed.

Even worse, after an try and exorcise Emilia, Ann and Dante consider they’ve succeeded, they usually stroll away. However they be taught the following day that the demon had merely retreated–it hadn’t truly been expelled–and Emilia later killed herself. The movie has meted out the last word punishment for the abortion, and Sister Ann leaves the exorcism faculty in shame and retreats again to her convent.

We then get some essential backstory about our foremost character. She all the time believed her abusive mom was truly possessed, not schizophrenic as she had been identified, and we now be taught that her mom killed herself as a way to cease hurting her daughter. The demon had possessed her as a way to get to Ann, who her mom believed had been chosen by God for a divine objective. After this traumatic childhood Annie was positioned in foster care, however she started consuming and appearing out, probably due to the intense emotional baggage she was carrying. At 15, she turned pregnant, and he or she sheepishly admits to Dante that she was too strung out to know who the daddy was. Though the film is considerably sympathetic to her trauma and abuse, it frames her being pregnant as a silly adolescent mistake, reasonably than utilizing the right time period for having intercourse with somebody who is just too intoxicated (and in most states, too younger) to consent: sexual assault.

prey for the devil Jacqueline Byers

Picture through Lionsgate

Now, the daughter that she surrendered for adoption, Natalie, is possessed by the identical demon that possessed Ann’s mom, and it nonetheless needs Ann. Once more, the film punishes each Ann and Natalie for Ann’s decisions and, because it did with Emilia, ties vulnerability to demon possession to abuse and assault.

Horror motion pictures have been punishing ladies for his or her sexuality for many years, a lot in order that it is turn out to be an previous trope that if a personality has intercourse within the film, they’re sure to die, and the “closing lady” is all the time one way or the other purer than the others. Essentially the most well-known instance might be Friday the thirteenth, however the trope is so well-known that 2011’s The Cabin within the Woods famously parodied it, blaming it on the whims of mysterious elder gods.

‘Prey for the Satan’ Takes It a Step Additional

A little girl bloodied and bruised carrying a rosary in 'Prey for the Devil.'

It does not simply punish ladies for having intercourse; it punishes them for making an attempt to exert management over their very own our bodies and, tacitly, for their very own sexual assaults. The movie appears as if it is attempting to be progressive– early on, it talks about how ladies have been persecuted by clergymen lots of of years in the past and acknowledges that their strategies have been barbaric. But in the long run, Ann saves her daughter by drowning herself within the holy water pool because the clergymen used to do to these accused as witches, retroactively justifying the apply. Father Dante is ready to revive her, however the implication that the clergymen have been proper to do what they did–and that ladies’s our bodies actually do must be managed by others–remains.

Deliberately or not, horror tales typically find yourself being allegories for all types of things–racism, psychological sickness, loss, even societal fears like international invasion and pandemics. When completed nicely, just like the highly effective illustrations of dwelling with grief in The Babadook and Cupboard of Curiosities‘ “The Murmuring,” they might help us to raised perceive our personal traumas. However when completed poorly, they will ship ugly, regressive messages, significantly about susceptible teams of individuals. Prey for the Satan demonizes ladies whereas hiding behind a supposedly empowered feminine protagonist, and this film and this message do not belong within the twenty first century.

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