Pray (aka Purei) DVD Review
Written by Neon Maniac
DVD released by Tartan Video USA
Directed by Yuchi Sato
Written by Tomoko Ogawa
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 77 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on April 11th, 2006
Mitsuru and his girlfriend Maki are down on their luck with nothing left to lose. In a last ditch effort to scrape up some cash, they decide to kidnap a school girl and ransom her to her parents. They hide out in an abandoned elementary school, and everything is going fine.
Until the girl runs off and the parents claim their daughter died a year ago. They're not going to pay.
Then Mitsuru's ne'er-do-well friends show up, and the fun really starts. They're meaner, tougher, and more desperate than Mitsuru. And since the ransom plan is off, they begin devising other things to do with the poor school girl.
Pray is an entertaining movie with a seemingly simple story line. However, like other recent J-Horror films, it tries to mix too many elements into the story, never really fulfilling each aspect that it tries to cover. Is it a crime story, a ghost story, a psyhological thriller, or what? It's all of that, and throw in a pinch of past guilt, Shyamalan-like twists, and you've got it. It's like someone trying to put all of their favorite fillings into the same pie. On their own, they're great. Together, not so much. In the case of Pray, it can get frustrating at times as the film seems to switch tracks, then doubles back, over and over again.
One thing I have to wonder about after watching Pray (as well as some other Asian Horror,) is if Asians ever lose their fontanels? Or do they, as a race, have very fragile eggshell thin skulls? Because, in this movie, and many others, they fall down dead at the slightest bump on the noggin. Pray is especially bad, because almost every death shown is due to a slight hit on the head! I am concerned, and thinking about starting a charity to send safety helmets over seas. If you would like to donate, please use PayPal.
The movie is worth a watch, though. It's not bad, it's just tiresome in places because you know what's going to happen, and the filmmaker telegraphs all of his plays. With a running time of only 77 minutes, you won't walk away feeling like you've wasted your time, and you'll have watched a well put together flick. It just won't be that memorable, and you won't find yourself raving about it like many of the others Tartan has released.
Video and Audio:
Pray is anamorphic, and sports a great picture. Colors and blacks are all nicely done, and the presentation is filmlike. Most of the film takes place in a dark, abandoned school, and you lose nothing in the shadows. While I wouldn't call Pray a demonstration quality disc, it definitely demonstrates the correct way to encode dark, shadowy scenes so that nothing is lost. The screen caps for the review have been brightened for the internet, do not use these as an example of quality.
Like all the Tartan releases, Pray has both DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks. And, like all releases both tracks are great, so pick whichever one is your personal preference.
Along with trailers for other Tartan releases, Pray has a "making of" documentary, and interviews with the director and cast as extra features. All are worth watching, and chances are if you grabbed this disc you're a fan of Asian Horror and will be watching them anyways. Don't let me stop you, they're worth the time.
(Neon's Movie Lounge contains a Zenith 42" Plasma EDTV, Oppo DV971H DVD player using a DVI connection, Pioneer 815 7.1 receiver and JBL Northridge E Series speakers.)
Want to comment on this review? Head over to the Horrortalk Review Forum.