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By Brent Moore | July 3, 2006

What a mess of a movie. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film as poorly written as this one. It’s hard to describe in any detail the plot holes and inconsistencies present without going into heavy spoiler mode so suffice it to say that nothing makes sense.

This is the kind of horror movie that relies on the big twist ending, or in this case several twists. Unfortunately the movie relies on the worst kind of twist, the one that comes out of nowhere with no sufficient foreshadowing or logic. When the big secret is revealed at the end it’s hard not to be shocked by the stupidity of it. How could the lead character not put the pieces together? How could he forget something that huge in his life?

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. “Pray” is a Japanese ghost story about a couple that kidnaps a girl and hauls her off to an abandoned school to await their ransom money. Unfortunately for them this girl is not what she seems and she fills the now required spot of creepy little Asian girl with long black hair. Her primary purpose in the movie is to stand absolutely still, look scary, and slowly point at things. It also doesn’t help that the school is haunted, but that’s a different story altogether.

That is one of the main problems with “Pray”. It tries to tell two different ghost stories at once and it can’t keep its story, what little there is, straight on either one. Even with two narratives going simultaneously there is not enough plot to sustain a feature length movie so we are left with endless sequences of the cast walking through dark, monochromatic hallways and occasionally being disturbed by an eerie noise. It’s just boring.

It would help if we were given some characters to care about but everyone here is paper thin. There is little to no character development and, with one exception, no back story for anyone. They are all just crazy anime hair and wide-eyed overacting. I was hoping to get some enjoyment out of their inevitable deaths but the kills here are as lame as they come, with two significant deaths being caused by tripping.

There have been a lot of rip-offs of “Sixth Sense” and “The Ring” over the years but, even given the low standard of quality those represented, “Pray” lowers the bar.

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