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12 Most Disturbing Moments From Prey For The Devil Ranked

Contains spoilers for "Prey for the Devil"

Ever since "The Exorcist" was unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 1973, there have been so many exorcism movies that they have become their own horror subgenre alongside vampires, zombies, and slashers. It isn't hard to see the appeal: Exorcism films portray a reality in which there is absolute good and absolute evil and the only way to make sure evil doesn't take over humanity is for absolute good to engage it in spiritual combat. Despite all the violence and body horror inherent in the subgenre, there is something comforting about that paradigm.

With "Prey for the Devil," the world has become so overrun by demon possession that the Catholic church has reinstituted schools that train priests in the craft of exorcisms, thus depicting a world where absolute good rises to meet absolute evil in greater numbers than ever before. The central plot, however, focuses on one young nun named Sister Ann (Jacqueline Byers) who has been unknowingly battling the same evil her entire life.

First, it came for her by taking over her mother's body. Now, it's determined to get her through the daughter she gave up for adoption as a teenager. Her struggles to keep this demon from claiming her soul results in a number of unsettling and disturbing moments, and we have ranked the 12 best below.

12. Let me in

Kicking off your movie with action grabs the audience's attention and forces them to pay close attention to piece everything together quickly before moving on to the main story proper. Just think of all the James Bond movies that begin with the secret agent accomplishing a mission before the opening credits. This happens just as frequently in horror movies as it does in action flicks (take "Scream" for example, with every film starting with a shocking death), but "Prey for the Devil" plays around with the trope.

The opening of the film sees young Ann (Debora Zhecheva) praying by her bed while her mother (Koyna Ruseva) knocks on the door, asking to come in. Everything seems like this will be a quiet scene of a mother putting her daughter to bed that gradually builds to the scare, but things escalate quickly when we realize Ann has locked her door.

In a blink, her mother is fiercely pushing and pulling the door, demanding to be let in. Then her voice gets angrier, and meaner until it's practically inhuman. We think that she is going to burst through the door at any second, but instead, we cut to a shot outside the room where she is rapidly bashing her own head against it. The lightning-fast escalation and unexpected self-harm brings you to the edge of your seat and keeps you there.

11. Alone with a corpse

From the outside, it appears as though Ann grew up with an abusive mother and her inability to accept that fact pushed her toward becoming a nun and taking a nursing position at the St. Michael the Archangel School of Exorcism in order to further delude herself into thinking her mom was perfectly sane and that her abusive behavior was caused by the devil. At least, that's what Dr. Peters (Virginia Madsen) believes, as we discover during their counseling sessions together.

Further supporting this argument is an eery scene that culminates in a genuine jumpscare based in the psychology of the protagonist rather than being a cheap shot at the audience's nerves. While walking the halls of the school, Ann occasionally hears voices. This leads her to a cold, clinical room with a bed in the center of it. On top of the bed is a human form below a sheet.

Ann removes the sheet to find her dead mother. Obviously freaked out by this, she turns to leave but finds she can't escape. She looks back at the bed and sees that it's empty. After a stretch of silence where Ann tries to figure out what's happening, her mother grabs her from behind, and Ann wakes up. What's so disturbing about this is it shows just how fractured and unsettled Ann's subconscious is and makes us question her mental state.

10. You've got a hair in your eye

You don't always need loud crashing or extreme violence to scare your audience. Sometimes, all you need is to exploit areas where we all feel vulnerable. "Prey for the Devil" does this in a scene where Ann is recalling the horrifying way her possessed mother would sometimes comb her hair. We see in numerous flashbacks that her mother would be perfectly normal one second, then be monstrous the next.

One such flashback shows her carefully and consideringly combing her daughter's hair before pulling and tearing at it, nearly ripping it out of the child's scalp. Ann remembers this while combing her own hair in the mirror. She then notices something wrong with her eye. In an extreme closeup, we see the tip of a single strand of hair emerging from her iris. She snags it with her fingers and pulls.

We then watch as she extracts this long strand of hair from deep inside her eye. The thing was embedded so far that her eye stretches as she pulls. It's a little piece of body horror that is so surreal we might as well be observing a nightmare.

9. You did that to yourself?

Ann forms an immediate bond with a little girl named Natalie (Posy Taylor) who has been showing signs of possession and is staying at the School for Exorcism so the priests and nuns can monitor her. Her condition becomes so severe that they say her possession has reached a terminal level. Compelled to protect Natalie, Sister Ann researches other terminal cases and is troubled by what she finds.

In a sequence reminiscent of several horror movies (such as "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"), Ann sits in a darkened room going through slides containing records she isn't meant to see. Not only is there a ton of information for her to sort through, but creepy images of the possessed as well. There is a common thread amongst all terminally possessed patients: death. All of them were transported from the school to a more secure facility and died. Except for one, that is.

She finds an interview with the only survivor, expecting to find hope in her story. Instead, she finds abject terror. In the middle of the interview, the formerly-possessed woman removes her false nose, revealing she has been cutting into her face to appease God. She feels so guilty about getting possessed that she is compelled to mutilate herself in penance. It's a shocking moment for Ann and the audience that comes out of nowhere.

8. Ann hears her mother's voice

The idea that Ann might be imagining things gets thrown out the window when security camera footage from a patient's room reveals her being attacked by an old man who is clearly incapable of this kind of violence. The scene begins with Ann washing the man's back. He seems perfectly gentle and docile enough at first, but then his IV bag fills with blood and he starts humming a song that Ann's mother used to sing to her.

When she asks where he heard that song, he comments that her mother had a pretty voice. Then Ann notices the sponge she is using to wash him is smoking. This is because they're using holy water to wash him and it is burning his corrupted flesh. She gets up to leave but, of course, the door won't open. The man pins her against the wall and his tongue emerges from his mouth to an unnatural degree.

Like the opening scene, it's the sudden shift into horror that knocks you off guard. You know something's wrong when the bag fills with blood, but the burning flesh and inhuman strength come so fast that you can barely process what's happening before Ann's life is in danger. As shocking as this is, it's merely a tease of what's to come.

7. An unauthorized exorcism

One of the major conflicts in "Prey for the Devil" is the fact that women are not allowed to perform exorcisms. However, after Sister Ann proves that her unconventional methods are effective, she is accepted into classes to become a full-fledged exorcist. She theorizes that some people are possessed because their emotional state welcomes demonic influence.

One priest who believes her is Father Dante (Christian Navarro). His sister got pregnant through rape and has been dealing with the shock and grief and shame ever since. He believes that she is possessed. They dare to perform an unsanctioned exorcism that not only puts his sister's life at risk, but theirs as well since the demon's powers extend behind the physical form it's inhabiting.

While they try to exorcise Father Dante's sister, blades from the ceiling fan break off one by one and fly across the room, embedding themselves like machetes in whatever they strike, demonstrating how lethal it would be to get hit by one. Then, the demon manifests inside the young woman's stomach, mocking her previous pregnancy and threatening to burst out of her abdomen. It's grueling, and although they think they've succeeded in banishing the demon, it secretly recedes into hiding, resulting in the woman dying by suicide later.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

6. You got my invitation

After the botched exorcism of Father Dante's sister, Ann resigns from her post. While she is away, Natalie's condition worsens and she is transferred away from the school. Father Dante finds her and explains the situation, saying that she is the only one who can defeat this evil. He gives her a rosary that was given to him by Natalie. Ann is shocked to see it is the very rosary she gave to her daughter on the day she gave her up. In this moment, she realizes Natalie is her daughter.

Ann dresses in disguise and returns to the school with Father Dante. They journey into the basement, where they used to drown victims of possession centuries before. Three priests stand in front of a gate keeping Natalie separated from them. When Ann arrives, Natalie says, "You got my invitation." Then everything goes dark. The three priests who were already there get dragged off into the darkness, never to be seen again. One of them you can even hear screaming for help before being silenced. It's quick, abrupt, and totally chilling.

5. Natalie's first exorcism

Honestly, if we were ranking individual images, almost half of this list would be made up of Sister Ann's first attempt to exorcise Natalie of her demon. This sequence throws almost everything at you and never lets up. Just when you think the worst is over, it takes another turn.

Things get off to a rough start when the bones in Natalies face shift. Then, as the priest begins reading from the Bible, she literally jams her fingers in her ears down to the knuckle. When they try to approach her, she moves back and scurries up the wall. Then there's a moment when she hides under the bed. As she emerges, she uncoils backward until she's standing straight up as if her spine has been removed. That's eerie enough, but the look of delight on her face makes it worse.

Then there's the moment she covered her eyes with her palms. Holes burn into the back of her hand and maggots slither out from the wounds. Still, that's not the worst of it. Before the end of the sequence, she falls on her back. Her hair is then pulled into her mouth and down her throat, suffocating her. When the priests pull the hair out to save her, the demon's fist emerges, gripping the hair. It is a lot to take in.

4. You win

Sister Ann has been battling the same demon her entire life. The reason for this is because the demon recognizes that Ann is one of God's holy warriors and wants to take her down, resulting in one fewer vessel for absolute good existing in the world. Whenever the demon confronts her it says, "Let me in!" In the opening scene of the film, it was assumed her mother meant, "Let me into your room," but what the demon is actually saying is "Let me into your soul."

In the third act, Ann realizes the only way to free Natalie is to let the demon in. She does this, and we watch as she falls to the floor and writhes in pain as her eyes go black and her lips dry. She then floats into the air, being bent nearly in half. This image can be a visual metaphor for the kind of pain human beings suffer when battling their own personal demons (mental health, addiction, etc.), and you feel the agony she must be going through.

Finally, she flings herself into a fountain of holy water as the words of her mother (and others she's met on her journey) ring in her head. The message is clear: Only by letting go of your pain can you be free. It's disturbing because although this story is about the supernatural, the struggle to find peace is painful.

3. A sudden relapse

We see images of the "sudden" relapse Father Dante tells Sister Ann about, which is incredibly violent and gory. Apparently, not having Ann around really infuriated the demon within Natalie and it sent everyone a message that everyone except Father Dante ignored: "Bring Ann back."

After Natalie was transferred away from the school, she was brought back in an ambulance, but she did not do so quietly. Instead, she slaughters everyone riding along with her. First, the EMTs seeing to her vitals are brutally eviscerated by the child. Then, a priest riding along with her holds out a crucifix to keep the demon at bay. All Natalie does in response to this is scowl at the religious symbol and it bursts into flames.

The fire spreads, killing the priest as well. When the doors to the ambulance are opened, all we see is Natalie sitting among a bunch of corpses, and dangling in her hand is the rosary that means so much to Ann. Although we've seen this kind of lashing out in other horror movies, what makes it so disturbing here is the fact that such a young girl is capable of such carnage.

2. The devil knows you

After Sister Ann successfully casts out the demon, she emerges renewed. The church is impressed by what she's accomplished and is sending her to the Vatican in order to continue her work. She has a nice scene with Father Quinn (Colin Salmon), who informs her she isn't technically the first woman exorcist — there was another one 700 years previously. Despite what this says about the way the church feels about women, Ann takes the victory and starts her journey. Before leaving, though, he warns her that because she now knows the Devil, the Devil knows her.

We see her in the back of a cab on the way somewhere. She glances out the window and notices a woman staring at her. She speaks to the driver and then looks back to find the woman is closer to her now. The driver then speaks to her in a creepy, demonic voice. She looks back out the window and sees the woman is right there. Not only that, but the driver is now sitting next to her. He lunges forward and we cut to credits.

What's disturbing about this is the message: No matter how hard you try, evil will not stop coming for you. She did the work to finally find peace, but the Devil isn't done with her yet. Her fight is far from over.

1. Let go

When Ann is wrestling with the demon, she hears her mother's voice repeating, "Let go." One could initially interpret this to mean that she wants her to stop fighting in a literal sense and allow the demon to take over. However, she actually means, "Let go of your guilt and shame."

Ann has blamed herself for her mother's death since she was a child. When she became a teenager, she got pregnant and gave up the baby and she's been feeling shame for that as well. These things have been eating at her for so long that it seems like she doesn't know how to function without that emotional baggage weighing her down.

If her theory is correct and demons really do invade people who are already torturing themselves, then this should mean that if she lets go of that pain and forgives herself, then the demon should be cast out. This is exactly what she does and it works, but the very idea that human beings struggling with trauma are more susceptible to demonic possession because they want to punish themselves in some way is by far the most disturbing thing in the movie.