Kimberly B. (TheBookHunter) from SALEM, OH Reviewed on 10/9/2008...
cool scary movie
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
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:
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."
Cyber Horror film starring Kristen Bell & Ian Somerhalder
Eddie Lancekick | Pacific Northwest | 12/16/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Pulse has its good and bad. The good is there are not yet 10,000 films like it on the shelves today. The bad thing is, if you take away the technology aspect of it, there are. Pulse is a film, which is taken from the original horror story by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The acting by Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder is fine, considering they are cast as college age student in a town, and world gone mad.
Bell's character is Mattie, a girl who is trying to get through her college classes and despite a close social network of friends, is worried at the sudden absence of her boyfriend Josh (played by Jonathan Tucker). Josh goes to the library where he is supposed to meet someone, but instead is met by an untimely visitor that is not of this world. Soon afterwards, something happens to him that eventually starts happening to people all over the city, and eventually the entire world.
As people start thinning out from the streets and classrooms of this gray, bleak town Mattie is in (the sun never shines here, adding to the dismal feeling of doom) Mattie receives a text message from Josh. That is impossible; however, because Josh's computer is not even online, and he is, err, in no state to be sending messages.
Mattie soon starts investigating what Josh had going on with his computer, only to find that something else very bizarre is happening all around her. She receives a note from him with rolls of red tape saying, "it keeps them out, I don't know why". Mattie soon meets up with Dexter McCarthy (Somerhalder) who is the new owner of Josh's computer. Together the try and stop what is ultimately the largest demonic invasion of ghosts through electronic means every experienced (well, until the next "Fear dot com II" anyways). When they find out that the person that Josh was supposed to meet holds the key to stopping what is happening, they have to encounter insurmountable odds in even hoping to reach him.
Despite the doggings this film is getting, it does have its good points. The premise behind what exactly these things are is never really explained or answered. What is cool is that that they are presented in a very dark, fiendish way, and the experience people have with them is nothing to take lightly. The film does its best to empty the streets and the world as the force, only now and again referred to as "THEM" takes over. Poltergeists traveling in White noise and unleashed by digital technology is I guess one way to describe them. As Mattie and Dexter try to stay alive and get to the bottom of things, the town and world around them quickly becomes a gothic showcase of screeching abominations that only Red Duct Tape can keep away. Supernatural Spirits of sorts being unlocked with computer programs is not new, but it hasn't been done a ton yet, leaving "Pulse" with enough entertainment value in storyline and well paced adventure to keep a viewer entertained."
Jonathan Appleseed | 02/16/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I wasn't expecting much from Pulse, and with such low expectations, I wasn't disappointed. It was everything a one- or two-star movie could hope to be.
What I did find disappointing was that they had a good idea somewhere, but everyone working on the film, top down, seemed to miss it. Then again, it was a remake of a Japanese horror classic (and Japanese horror films rarely, if ever, make sense), so they weren't trying to find an original story. Pity.
In an otherwise quiet college town, the suicide rate is skyrocketing. Eventually our heroes, Mattie (Kristen bell) and Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) realize that there is a virus, of sorts, in "the system", and odd, silvery specter-like creatures are the cause of it. These creatures, never explained, put themselves face-to-face with their victims and then it seems that they inhale and suck some essence from their victim, which feeds them - somehow. It makes for good viewing, but it doesn't make much sense. And because it doesn't make sense, we're not "creeped-out".
Since I'm reviewing this as the DVD, and not the film, I'm giving it two-stars - because for the first time that I can recall, the special features were subtitled. As I'm hearing impaired, I normally miss out on the special features, and even though these special features weren't all that exciting, I was able to watch them.