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Prayer Never Fails by Sid De La Cruz (Review)

posted Mar 11, 2016, 4:07 PM by Kaya Savas

Prayer Never Fails is the latest example of using film as religious propaganda, and it’s always interesting because these films usually sacrifice good storytelling to make sure they bash their point across. Movies like Captive or Heaven Is For Real and now Prayer Never Fails are examples of this. Strangely, the composers attached always manage to isolate the passion in these projects and find something that works musically. Be it Lorne Balfe scoring Captive, Nick Glennie-Smith scoring Heaven Is For Real, or now up and coming composer Sid De La Cruz here. This film follows the story of a high school basketball coach who is fired for creating a prayer group with his team. The coach hires an agnostic lawyer (see, even agnostics support prayer in schools!) to get his job back. The film is pure propaganda trying to spin religion in school as freedom of speech, but don’t let it detract you from examining what Sid De La Cruz was able to do musically.

Cruz is utilizing the direct to video and indie movie grounds to hone his skills as a composer, and he clearly has talent worth examining. With Prayer Never Fails, the score focuses on pushing that larger than life inspiration in the music. The strings and piano score might seem like an expected approach, but it allows the score to stay intimate and emotional all at the same time. What doesn’t work is of course the film’s on the nose message. This forces the score to push into the melodramatic territory of forced emotions. Plus you mix in some more on the nose hip-hop songs and you have a recipe for the music to become part of the film’s heavy-handed message. The score has no choice but to become as heavy-handed as the film is, and that’s where it loses all of its emotional effect. By the end, its wishy-washy structure wears thin and the sampled strings lose their weight.

Prayer Never Fails tries to take on religion in schools and argues that it’s against freedom of speech. This film serves only as propaganda to fuel those who actually believe in that. The film's website urges churches to gather together for screenings and support the film’s cause. Looking beyond all that nonsense, the score by Sid De La Cruz offers a glimpse at some great talent. Unfortunately the music is forced into the mold of heavy-handed emotions and becomes a wash of melodrama. Even though I am whole-heartedly against the motivations of the film trying to argue religion in schools as freedom of speech, there are some glimmers of narrative pull in the score worth looking at despite the overall weak narrative structure.