REVIEW: Pulse [2006]

“Do you want to meet a ghost?”

Why does Hollywood insist on remaking movies from foreign countries when they haven’t even been out for five years? If Asian horror is really the best form of the genre out there, why don’t production companies buy distribution rights and show them stateside? Instead they spend that money to get rights and then invest even more to get actors and a production off the ground for a full-blown reshoot. I mean when has an American remake ever been better than the original? Yeah, that’s right, never. The Ring was at least moderately interesting, I’m sure mostly due to Gore Verbinski’s directing and ability to bring something new to the film. With Pulse, I have to believe the people involved just wanted to create a platform to get pretty people on screen to make a quick buck. Seriously, this film is repetitious and boring to the point where I thought I read the 90 minute playtime wrong, thinking I was at the two hour mark when I still had a half hour left.

I will say one thing though, seeing this trash makes me want to see the original, Kairo, even more. If a film this bad could have a chance of being made, then the first incarnation must be a masterpiece, cause if it’s as bad as this, I don’t see why anyone would bother. This story is ripe with possibilities, as a frequency of ghosts has overtaken humanity through its ability to move through our wires and airwaves. The exposure to the problem of being connected worldwide, so well that it could spell extermination, is a fantastic idea to build a film around. While a tv show like “Battlestar Galactica” broaches the subject to the fact that they have been destroyed because the enemies superior prowess in technology allowed them to shut down the planet in the matter of minutes through the networks, Pulse only mentions the problem during the final voiceover, finishing the movie. “Battlestar” builds on the idea that our need to be Gods led us too close to the sun and therefore allows them to take a step back, dissolve networks and tunnels into their survival structure to find a way to stay alive. Unfortunately, rather than touch on the overreaching ego we humans have grown, the filmmakers decide to show people get killed one after the other in the exact same way the previous victim did. Not only do they miss the opportunity to make a plotline with some depth, they refuse to add a sense of spontaneity to get an audience’s interest. A character sees the ghost, has his will to live sucked out, goes home to be found depressed by a friend, and ultimately kills himself or turns to ash. You can only stand seeing the same thing so many times.

While the film itself was a disaster, there were some redeeming qualities, the best of which was the visual look and special effects. The pulse of electricity prevalent throughout was nice and the way the filmmakers dealt with the apparitions realistic and well done. Scenes like that which is depicted on the poster above were amazing to watch, especially the few dream sequences clouded in a fog with a hyper-stylized monochromatic color palette. Also, the acting wasn’t so bad. Something about Kristen Bell annoys me, though. Whether it’s the fact that she can go from very attractive to weird looking in the matter of one eye blink, I don’t know. I will say the Avril Lavigne look was not becoming and totally wrong for the character it is that she plays, her acting however is good enough. Ian Somerhalder is pretty decent as well, albeit the same thing we’ve seen from him before. Besides a fantastic, yet brief appearance by the wonderful Brad Dourif, the real quality lies with Rick Gonzalez. Always someone that gets put in average films, he seems to never fail in bringing a performance better than the movie itself. Usually just the comic relief as in Old School, the emotional resonance he exudes here is effective as it was in the decent Coach Carter. His scenes post-ghost-viewing are real good. It’s just a shame that all the interesting characters fall so easily to the enemy when our two protagonists get cornered time and time again and seem to just be able to run away. Damn, why didn’t the rest think of that? Run away…what a novel idea.

Pulse 3/10 | ★

[1] Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder star in Jim Sonzero’s Pulse.


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