Starring: Katsuya Kobayashi, Fumiyo Kohinata, Sanae Miyata, Asami Mizukaw,
Mitsuyoshi Shinoda, Tetsuji Tamayama, Toshiyuki Toyonaga   

Directed by: Yuichi Sato

Story: Down on their luck and desperate for money to buy drugs, Mitsuru and
Maki have the perfect plan. They decide to kidnap a young girl and hide out in
an abandoned school, until their demands are met. Everything is going
according to plan, until they realize they have made one gross miscalculation.
Their hostage died a year ago today and now it’s their turn.


I love Asian cinema, especially ones within' the horror genre. We've had many
wonderful releases from Japan, some scary and some utterly brutal. It's always
a pleasure seeing films that feature good ghost stories. Yuichi Sato's Pray goes
right into that very same list of wonderful releases. The only thing with Pray is
that it's pretty different from most of the stuff that come overseas. It's a film
that will have will thinking and at the same time it just messes with your mind.
Although the film has its horror elements it mostly plays out like a psychological
thriller. Which is not a bad thing at all considering the fact that I'm pretty fond
of psychological thrillers. Pray tells the story of a desperate couple who kidnap
a little girls in hopes to keep her for ransom until the family pays up a certain
amount of money. They hide out in a closed down school and try to contact the
girl's parents for the ransom. After a brief phone call they learn that the girl
they recently kidnapped died over a year ago. Who is she, who did they kidnap?

The thing that I noticed about halfway into the movie is that it's different from
a lot of other Japanese horror films released here in the US. I was so used to
seeing ghosts with long dark hair and straight forward over the top blood and
gore violence. Pray is different, it really plays out more like a psychological
thriller and mystery. The film does feature ghosts but there is much more to it.
The film has no humor and it plays out like one giant mystery as you try to
figure out some of these characters. From the beginning you're unaware of
what's going to happen and you're just not too sure about the characters in
the film. Pray is one of those movies that you really have to sit down and pay
attention to. Otherwise you may end up being stumped and confused to what
may happen later in the picture. Most of the film takes place in one setting. We
fallow the main characters in an old closed down school and that is where most
of the film takes place.

The film features side characters who are in a different location but most of it
take place at night in this school. It makes for a nice dark and really different
(but still creepy) environment to be in. The biggest part of the film is the actual
plot and relationships between the characters. That's where the acting is at its
best. Everything is believable and I didn't find anything wrong with the acting or
overall plot. This film also has its fair share twists. Viewing this film the first
time was a bit hard because I got confused in some areas and I questioned
that maybe I missed something or just didn't pay enough attention to a certain
scene. When I watched it the second time around I realized that the reason
why I got confused is because the film features twist after twist after twist. The
plot and relationships between the characters change every 30 minutes or so
and when you actually finish watching the movie it makes complete sense.

If you plan to see this film I highly recommend paying close attention to it and
keeping an open mind. If you're expecting to see a crazy over the top gore fest
then watch something else. But if you want to watch a film with a good plot
and many twists then definitely check out Pray. I had a pretty neat time
watching it, there is no humor and the entire thing runs as a mystery so I tried
my very best to pay attention through the whole thing. It's good all the way
through if you just keep with the characters and the story. The bonus features
on this DVD are pretty good. It isn't jam packed with a ridiculous amount of
bonus features but what the DVD does provide is good. The film is in Japanese
which includes English and Spanish subtitles, a Making of featurette, an
interview with the director and star of the film and even the trailer to the movie.
They're pretty basic features but it still makes the DVD worth a buy.

If you miss a scene or don't pay too much attention to the film then you'll have
a hard time understanding some of it. This movie is great for its mystery but
it's not all fun and games. There are scenes where you begin to see these
ghosts more often and there is a good body count along the way. It's nothing
too fancy or too gory but it's different in the way that these characters die.
Pray isn't the kind of horror film to watch for the blood and gore anyway. It's
more of a mystery and a thriller which has a lot of twists. My favorite part of
the film is near the end when the story unfolds and you figure everything out.
For me it was very touching and nice. I would definitely recommend Pray for
those who want to watch something different. It's stereotypical on many levels
but they did something different with the story. If you're into Asian horror films
like Ju-On or Dark Water then you'll like Pray. It has a good story and it has
plenty of plot twists which will keep you guessing through most of the picture.

Overall: 7/10
Genres: Thriller

Rated: R

Country: Japan

Year: 2005

Runtime: 77 minutes

Studio: Tartan Video


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