Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Wes Craven
Kristen Bell as Mattie Webber
Ian Somerhalder as Dexter McCarthy
Christina Milian as Isabell Fuentes
Rick Gonzalez as Stone
Jonathan Tucker as Josh Ockmann
This review of Pulse is an interesting one to write. Why, you ask? Well, Pulsehas a couple of things working against it from the start. First, it is a remake… and many horror fans are sick and tired of remakes. Second, it is a remake of a beloved Japanese horror film…and fans of Asian horror don’t take kindly to their dark and existentialist favorites being changed up for American audiences. Third, it is rated PG-13…and many horror fans feel that when a film seeks the “mass market appeal” associated with anything less than an R rating it has sold out. With these factors in play a couple of elements of the movie-reviewing subculture are automatically going to “lash out” at this or any film. Especially the die-hard Asian horror fans and what I affectionately call the “horror intelligencia”.
I don’t really belong to either of these groups. I am not a big fan of Asian horror, not because I don’t appreciate it but merely because I have not been exposed to it much. Well, if you count Godzilla then I’ve been somewhat exposed, mostly on Saturday mornings as a kid. “Go Mothra”.
And about the “horror intelligencia”… I am not a big fan. Look, I’m just a guy that loves horror movies. Not a film-school wannabe, not of the avant-garde Hollywood hangers-on and definitely not someone that must have X, Y and Z elements in existence before I will even consider enjoying a good horror flick. Sure, I can recognize factors such as good acting, wonderful cinematography, creative storytelling, production quality etc. etc., but at the end of the day it really comes down to one simple thing: Did I like it and was it scary?
The verdict for Pulse is that I liked it and it was scary.
The story begins with a group of college students, and great pains are made from the very beginning of Pulse to draw attention to the high use of electronic gadgetry. Cell phones, laptops, wireless Internet and the list goes on. Are they trying to prove a point here?
Our heroine is Mattie (Kristen Bell) and she is distressed because her on-again off-again boyfriend is not returning her calls. When she goes to his apartment to confront him she sees the beginning of a merging of technology and the paranormal that threatens to bring on the apocalypse.
Mattie’s boyfriend is a hacker, and has hacked into a computer system that stored technology surrounding a new computer frequency – a frequency that the dead can use to return to the realm of the living and rob people of their life force.
Is there any way to stop a supernatural plague that travels through the communication network we have set up around the world? You will have to watch Pulse to find out.
There were several things that I liked about the movie:
• The acting, while not Academy award winning, was good enough to keep me involved and intrigued as the story unfolded,• The story was highly original (well, this is a remake so it’s inherently NOT original, but I never saw the Japanese version, so it was original to me),
• There were a good couple of “yell out loud” scares, which I enjoy immensely,
• The tone was dark and ominous and keeps you waiting for the next element of the story to develop.
Pulse did have some things happen that were a bit unlikely, but that is just something that one needs to accept in horror. Frankly, I didn’t really notice the points that didn’t make much sense until after I left the theater because Pulse kept me engaged throughout.
Before I wrote this review I made the terrible mistake of looking around the Internet at what the general consensus was of Pulse. I don’t typically do this, but because this movie was a remake of the beloved Japanese film Kairo (2001, Written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa) I was interested in how my feelings compared with the wave of “reviewer opinion”. I won’t do that again. I disagree with reviewers more often then not, and this is no exception.
I recommend watching Pulse and enjoying it for what it is; A scary horror flick with an original concept and dark scary images. Just make sure that you turn off your cell phone.