Actors: Kristen Bell, Rick Gonzalez, Christina Milian, Ian Somerhalder, Jonathan Tucker
Director: Jim Sonzero
Genres: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Electronic devices serve as gateways for a terrifying evil that can?t be turned off.
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K. K. (GAMER)
Reviewed on 12/25/2018...
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Enough With the Remakes, Already!
Felixpath | Vermont, USA | 08/26/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
""Pulse" comes breezing into theaters as the latest remake of a Japanese horror film. J-horror is lucrative these days, as was demonstrated by "The Ring," "The Grudge," and their sequels. Problem is, something keeps getting lost in translation. In general, Japanese horror films (like much of Japanese culture) involve the clash between the old and the new, between tradition and technology. In "The Ring," a vengeful ghost implanted itself, virus-like, on a VHS tape. In "The Grudge," a jealous murder caused an ordinary house to become possessed by a force of supernatural fury. But while the original films are based around understatement and slowly-mounting terror, the American versions tend to abandon that for a slick production design and lots of "Boo!" moments. While watching "Pulse," all I could think was, same old, same old.
The plot is barely coherent, but I'll do my best. Kristen Bell (from "Veronica Mars") stars as a college student named Mattie who, along with some forgettable friends, goes to the single ugliest school in the country, a dismal maze of industrial concrete, crumbling plaster, rust, cracks, mold, and rot. Their geographic location (Columbus, OH) is never stated, probably to avoid offending the people who live there. You know how college students in movies always live in apartments that they could never afford in real life? "Pulse" overturns that rule by showing us apartments that only a college student would be desperate enough to live in. Everything seems to be in a state of decay -- including Mattie's boyfriend, Josh (Jonathan Tucker) who no one has seen for days. Mattie drops by his apartment to find the place in a disgusting state and Josh looking and acting like a zombie. While she's there, he wanders into a closet and hangs himself. We already know something of Josh's fate: in the film's opening scene, he goes poking around a spooky library and gets attacked by a flickering, half-seen creature. And there was something weird on his computer screen...
While Mattie struggles to get over Josh's demise, more questions pop up. Why'd he do it? Why were his bedroom windows covered in red electrical tape? And if he's dead...who's IM'ing Mattie and her friends from his account? Mattie finds that his computer has vanished from the apartment, but eventually locates its new owner, a two-bit hacker named Dexter (Ian Somerhalder from "Lost," playing more or less the same role). When Dexter plugs in Josh's machine, all he can find is a glowing line of text -- "Do you want to meet a ghost?" -- and some grainy, unsettling video footage of hollow-eyed kids in various stages of suicide. He and Mattie join forces to figure out what's going on, while the supporting characters are systematically dispatched by horror movie clichés. (Never, never, NEVER do laundry alone in the basement!) Mattie herself keeps having encounters with the flickering phantoms, though they never actually attack her, maybe 'cause she has top billing. Meanwhile, fragments of news footage hint that something terrible is happening all over the country, maybe the world. Seems Josh did some hacking of his own, and opened the wrong file, and unleashed....ghosts, or demons, or something. The movie never pauses to explain itself; the new character who pops up near the end to reveal the source of the horror isn't helpful at all. Isn't it weird how characters in a movie can explain so much while explaining nothing? "Silent Hill" had the same problem. The ending of "Pulse" is supposed to be all grim and apocalyptic, but all I could think was: Yay! They're finally away from that butt-ugly school! I mean, if I had to attend there, I'd be pretty suicidal too.
"Pulse" isn't a total loss, though its best elements are still pretty derivative. The production design is moody and atmospheric, saturating the screen with melancholy blues and greens -- too bad "The Ring" already used that trick. The sound design is jagged and unsettling and serves to heighten what little tension there is -- but again, it's nothing that hasn't screeched and crackled and gurgled on soundtracks before. The special effects are sufficiently polished and provide us with some of the best moments, as the cyber-ghosts waver and jitter across the screen and their victims, sucked dry of their will to live, disintegrate into patches of black mold. The actors do the best they can with what little they've got -- I like Bell, Somerhalder, and Christina Milian (as Mattie's best friend), and I wished they were in a movie that gave them more than one emotional state. (Bell is "Angsty," Milian is "Sassy," and Somerhalder is "Just Plain Out Of It.") Oh, and creepy character actor Brad Dourif ("Lord of the Rings," "Child's Play," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and about a million other things) pops up in a random cameo, the subtext of which is "Look! It's creepy character actor Brad Dourif in a random cameo!"
I guess the bottom line is...stick with the Japanese original. "Pulse" isn't an awful movie, just an uninspired one. I can't think of anything in the film that I hadn't already seen. Decades from now, "Pulse" will probably be shown in film study classes as a prime example of how, at the start of twenty-first century, Hollywood had barely an original idea in its head. Maybe that's why the cyber-ghost-demon-things are so intent on wiping us out: hiding in their digital lair, spying on humanity, they said to each other, "Enough is enough! Let's take over the planet before the humans make a bland, assembly-line horror movie about us! Oops, too late.""
While "Pulse" lacks one itself, it is still creepy entertain
Steven Hedge | Somewhere "East of Eden" | 02/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"One third The Ring + two thirds White Noise + a dash of The Terminator = a surprisingly disappointing entry into the current Asian influenced horror flicks.
The plot is simple. It opens with a college student that appears to be following a lead on something happening on campus that few are aware of and what happens to him leads to an epidemic of suicides as his girlfriend attempts to unravel the mystery behind his death and those of her friends that follow. There is a lot of psycho-babble drivel thrown around but no one really seems upset about things like we might be in real life. This is a direct result of tepid acting, shallow writing, and pedestrian direction.
The characters in this story are a group of rather unremarkable and stereotypical college students who are all rather forgettable soon after the film is over and that means that this film never really takes off as we never care much for any of them. This is what I meant in my headline that this film actually lacks a pulse. All the males are your typical long, uncombed hair, five o'clock shadow, 20 somethings with little to no personalities. I can barely tell one from the other. The same is true for the women who, although pretty, are shallow personality-wise. This causes the film to lack serious suspense which is created when we care about the characters such as we did with those in "The Ring" and "White Noise".
Speaking of those two outstanding films, this film attempts to mimic elements in them in regards to appearance with its sharp contrasts and washed out colors and the idea that ghosts need conduits to reach us and they don't always play nicely when they do. Both films also relied upon jolting images that suddenly appear (which has become rather old at this point, much like the overuse of CGI effects) In addition, this film attempts to tack on the message that we are too dependent on technology which is reminiscent of themes found in "The Terminator" films. Ironically, the film even has an effectively haunting scene in which we see ghosts all over cities and that reminds one of Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later.
So, with all this negativity, why did I still give this film 3 stars, which means it's good and why did I add it to my shopping cart? Well, I like the influence of the Asian horror films in that I like the "look" of them, the creepiness, the jolting, disturbing images, and such even when the whole film isn't that great. In addition, while this film certainly isn't original, I do like the components that are copied from better films. It is still a fun, creepy ride even though we've been on this roller coaster many times before. Lastly, at PG-13 or even the "Unrated" edition this film is one I can watch with my kids (11 and 15). There are no "sex scenes" or anything vividly violent as in a typical "slasher" type film. It's just a creepy film that has some good repeat value.
Do I "recommend" this film. No, not really and especially not to those who have tired of this genre already, but those who like this kind of film no matter how redundant or ill-produced, will get a decent kick out of it.
BTW: In regards to Star Ratings, I've read many discussion comments lately that note that 3 stars is poor on Amazon. I'm not sure where that is coming from as I understand the rating system to be something like this:
* = Poor
** = Fair
*** = Good
**** = Excellent
***** = Outstanding
Just my thoughts on this and I'm sure opinions and interpretations may vary. Happy Viewing!"
I don't know...I liked it...
Matt Gillette | Hillsdale, MI USA | 12/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After all the bad stuff I heard about this movie I rented it with pretty low expectations; I just wanted to see the star of my favorite show (Kristen Bell of "Veronica Mars") in a horror film. To my surprise I really got into it. It's not particularly scary, but it's got an amazing look and style to it; definitely made me think of the Silent Hill video games. Bell and the rest of the cast provide better acting than most movies of this nature. Overall I really got caught up in the film. "Pulse" is nowhere near as good as "The Ring," but it's definitely better than "The Ring Two" and "The Grudge" movies. Worth a rental at least."