STUDIO: Tartan Video
MSRP: $24.99
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
• Interview with director Yuichi Sato
• The Making Of Pray
• Trailers

The Pitch

audience craves twist endings. Why not build a movie entirely out of twists?"

The Humans

Kobayashi, Fumiyo Kohinata

The Nutshell

It’s hard
to summarize this movie, because it tries to go in a different direction every
ten minutes or so. The result is a disjointed narrative that reminds me not so
much of, say, Pulp Fiction as a young boy running in circles on his lawn,
laughing, falling down, and throwing up.

But hey,
the first ten minutes are what everyone else summarizes, so here you go: two
young adults in need of drug money kidnap a little girl. When they call up her
parents to demand a ransom, the parents respond that their little girl is dead,
and has been for a year.

The archangel Gabriel charges $15.00 per hour, Tarot readings extra.

The Lowdown

You know
how some movies have decent plots and then sink all their goodwill into an
incoherent twist? A good example of this might be Unbreakable, which built
a decent character interaction and then lost all audience interest with a
tacked-on, unnecessary surprise in the conclusion.

Pray is like the last five minutes of Unbreakable
repeated for an hour-and-a-half. That plot summary above? You can pretty much
forget it, because it doesn’t really matter. Where modern narrative requires a
dramatic arc of some sort, Pray instead builds a dozen bridges
to nowhere. And if you try walking on that bridge, it dumps you off into a
river full of hot tar.

I have
very little positive to say about this film. The acting requires no depth, and
the actors can’t even pull off apathy that well. The scares are telegraphed by
mundane camera work. The conclusion, which is only the latest in a succession
of left-field entrances, is sentimental tripe. What few shots there are
promising brutality are cut like an episode of Twilight Zone and
replaced by scant, unconvincing gore. With these powers combined, form of oh good lord my brain.

"Okay, just… congeal on this stick, and check it in two minutes."

The funny
thing is I rather like the premise of the first ten minutes of the movie. It’s
the kind of lowbrow high-concept that can function well in the horror genre,
given enough tension to sustain it. Pray just doesn’t provide that
tension. It’s hard to keep a note of dread hanging in the air when a new
orchestra comes crashing in with a completely different tune every few minutes.
They’re probably drunk. Willful incoherency, repetitive scares, and wholly
uninteresting characters prove that it’s this entry into the clotted market, not the audience, which hasn’t got a prayer.

The Package

As with
Tartan’s other releases, the audio and video quality are both top notch. The
English-language subtitles have a few typos, but most are forgivable. Only one
sticks out as particularly odd, and that’s the title of the film, which is
subtitled in the opening credits as "Prayer" rather than Pray.

bonuses are few and content-light, including a behind-the-scenes featurette and
a brief interview with director Yuichi Sato. There’s also a selection of
previews for other upcoming Tartan Asia Extreme discs, including Lady

"May I?"

4.9 out of 10