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Prey For The Devil Star Jacqueline Byers Gets Candid About Her Intense Preparation For The Role

Serving as one of the most anticipated horror releases for the end of 2022, horror director Daniel Stamm's "Prey for the Devil" isn't a typical exorcism movie. While the film does play with some of the usual tropes — there's a demon possessing an innocent victim, an exorcist comes to try and force the evil creature out, plenty of supernatural spooks and jump scares ensue — the film's true appeal comes from how it plays with audience expectations regarding how this sort of story usually plays out. Much of that subversion stems from the movie's lead, Jacqueline Byers' Sister Ann. 

A nun-turned-exorcist, Ann's willingness to challenge her church's traditional methods actually gives this classic tale of demons and possession a chance at a happy ending for once...maybe. Viewers may notice that Ann has an uncanny ability to remain calm, even throughout some of the exorcism adventure's most frightening scenes. As it turns out, the horror movie star did some hardcore research to help bring Ann to life.

Byers studied under a real-life therapist for the role

Many stories of actors devoting themselves to a role involve staying in-character outside of shooting, radically altering their physical appearance, or just generally taking method acting too far, but Byers took a different tack for "Prey for the Devil." 

In an interview with Horror Geek Life, Byers revealed that she delved into the realm of psychology and human emotion and did extensive research with a professional in the field. "I worked with a therapist to try and understand trauma, where it lies in the body, the idea of fight and flight," Byers said. "In those moments when most people would run away scared or decide to battle, she calms herself, focuses on the victim, and it's like how do you still feel afraid for someone who is feeling calm?"

Ann, who prioritizes empathy towards the victim of the demonic possession and isn't easily fazed by haunted happenings, serves as an intriguing departure from the usual exorcist archetype in horror movies. According to director Daniel Stamm, these unique qualities and how they put her in conflict with her religious peers is what makes her a strong protagonist. "In our story, Sister Ann is saying: 'You guys have made this all about yourself, enamored with the image of yourself bravely fighting demons," the filmmaker told Bloody Disgusting. "'The devil is using your vanity to distract you — it's time to focus on the victim, the possessed, the one you claim to be fighting for.'"