I really wanted to like this film when I put it in my que to watch, not that I would necessarily agree with it, but I’m always for the low-budget filmmaker attempting to finish what is an insurmountable task. What I expected was a campy “wholesome” Christian horror movie. What I got was a boring film with an ending that calls into question every act of murder and rape ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at a film. The sin of Pray (2008) is both its message to teenage girls and its squandering of a decent cast and location shots.
I feel I must confess that I am guilty of falling in love with “extra material” when I’ve done flash animation in the past or even comics that included unnecessary dialogue or even articles that should be edited and cut down. Pray is certainly guilty of falling in love with “extra material.” Pray should have been a 22 minute Tales from the Darkside like episode with a surprise ending. Unfortunately, the director or producer or whoever called the shots, fell in love with the footage and it lingers on pointless scenes of school, the mall, hotel rooms, inside homes, etc, ad nauseam.
And that’s a real shame because they could have had a nice short film even if I did find the end message offensive. The only way for them to have a long film is to actually scare us with the killer/rapist suspect and the irony is that the filmmakers of Pray were “afraid” to scare us–because that involves real terror and not the Disneyland version of terror in this “safe” film. “Safe” as in it is a horror film that gets the Dove Family-Approved Award. Why the hell does a horror film need that, even if it is Christian? Can’t Christians have a horror film that doesn’t have to be watched by the entire family?
Here’s a good point to make when choosing an actress for a family safe Dove approved film: don’t inspire lustful thoughts amongst young preteen and teen boys–don’t choose a lead actress with big breasts and have her hurriedly run so that everything bounces.
I actually warmed up to Audrey Battah, the lead in question, who plays Madison Preston, a typical teenage girl who happens to be a Christian. Despite the low-budget, she did her best to act realistically and create a sweetness about her character. I don’t mean to demean her about her breasts as I have no problems with them or to be honest any variety of body shape, but what exactly is family safe? I guarantee you her bodily presence is sin-inspiring for the vunerable male adolescence which is the target audience.
So let’s get down to the ending, since all this film has is glimpses of the attacker and lots of unnecessary talking and footage. At the end, Madison is left to fend for herself in a mall after hours trying to find an exit. She is stalked by the attacker, prays to God to save her and hits him over the head with a brick. Finally an exit is found, the attacker regains consciousness and Madison is chased out into the parking lot. She gets into her car, the car won’t start and she prays something to the extent of, “Jesus, start my car.” The car magically starts, she speeds away in a panic until the car gives out at a nearby gas station. Something is wrong with the car. The gas station attendant checks it out and finds that Madison’s car has no engine. Gee, how could she have driven away from the attacker? Must have been a miracle.
Even more offensive to our freethinking sensibilities is that the movie states it was inspired by a true event. True, my ass. I call bullshit.
First of all, Madison–where’s your cellphone? You have everything but a cellphone, you typical teen shopper? How come you didn’t ask the gas station attendant to call the police immediately, you airhead? Instead you tell a stranger to fix your car because you got away from a rapist. Most smart teen girls would have asked for a phone or the police, unless they were just plain featherheads.
Let’s keep going. How come God’s miracle is only strong enough to get Madison to the nearest gas station and not all the way home to her parents? They could have towed the car from there. Instead, God puts her in a situation with a dark gas station with another creepy individual–the gas station attendant.
How come God didn’t open the car door for her as she’s running for her life and had to fumble with her keys (oh, I forgot, you have to pray first because God’s too stupid or too arrogant to be proactive)? How come God helps Madison escape but allows this attacker to persist so that he can stalk other women that same night? Whoops, do they again have to pray? Is God so apathetic?
When the victim in the beginning of the film, a Christian mom (because we can see her Christian T-shirt) is taken/raped (who knows?), are we to assume she forgot to pray for help? Later on in the film, we see a missing flyer for her so apparently she’s dead. Prayer doesn’t seem to work all the time or maybe God just didn’t like this woman.
How come God doesn’t strike this attacker dead? How is it that God does all these pointless little things instead of doing what is logical and obvious?
Oh and, how are we to give credit to Madison’s first prayer for God to save her when she saved herself by using a brick?
This film is just a huge assault on our dignity and our intelligence and on female survival from rapists. And guess what, there’s 2 more sequels.
Per ChristianCinema’s quoting of Dove comments on Pray, “…so this could be used as an educational movie to show teens the importance of praying; and that sometimes, God will be the only one you have to talk to, and God wants you to ask Him for help.” Bullshit! I would not teach my daughter to be a victim by relying on some unverifiable being and it is aggravating to see this proposed. Teenage girls should be taught to be smart and courageous in the face of danger. Especially in the face of rapists–you get out your keys, nail them in the eye, kick them in the balls, and run like hell until you can call the police. You do not waste your time praying to God. When you are alone, you have to rely on “you.”
Does Pray really think that all the victims of Bundy or the BTK killer didn’t try praying to God to save them? What a poke in the eye to every victim of assault that has not been rescued by a divine being. Better to buy a can of mace than watch this movie.