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Pray (aka Purei) DVD Review

Written by Neon Maniac

DVD released by Tartan Video USA

Praybox

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Directed by Yuchi Sato
Written by Tomoko Ogawa
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 77 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on April 11th, 2006

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


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Movie:

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.

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Review:

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.

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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.


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Special Features:

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 anyway. Don't let me stop you, they're worth the time.

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Grades:

Movie: Threestars
Video: Fourstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Threestars
Overall: Threestars

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