Pulse (2006)

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Review #213 of 365
Film: Pulse (2006) [PG-13] 90 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $9.50
Where Viewed: Colorado Cinemas Bowles Crossing 12, Littleton, CO
When 1st Seen: 12 August 2006
Time: 5:35 p.m.

Elia Cmiral - Pulse

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Japanese director and screenwriter Kiyoshi Kurosawa put out a very, very scary movie a few years ago called Kairo. And just as with Dark Water and the Grudge films that were all written by Japanese authors on the topic of malevolent ghosts, Kurosawa (no relation to Akira Kurosawa) too dabbles in ghost stories. Kairo, which has now been remade, directed by Jim Sonzero from a screenplay co-written by Mr. Kurosawa and horror maestro Wes Craven, and renamed Pulse is the destined to be known as the grand daddy of all ghost stories. Pulse is not just about one ghost with a penchant for mayhem and a grudge to avenge. Pulse is about all ghosts. Every ghost of every person who has ever died a horrible and unfair death wants, not just revenge, they want to be back. And by 'back' I mean they want to be back…ALIVE. Unfortunately for we mere living people, telecommunications computer scientists at a university in Ohio, tapped into a new spectrum of frequencies that had before as yet remained undiscovered and for a good reason. Turns out these frequencies permit the spirits of the dead to cross over to our side via any wireless communications device. And, when they come, they come to take the life out of a living person in a diabolically clever special effect that literally looks like the light of their being is being sucked out into the ghost. Once out, the person becomes a shell and ends up committing suicide or just exploding into a cloud of ash or more freaky getting pulled into a wall leaving behind what looks like a Rorschach ink blot impression of their former self. Wow, to begin, that is an entirely plausible and entirely freaky storyline isn't it? Ok, some people won't find it that plausible. But there's no escaping that it's a freaky and terrifying concept. Forget ghosts coming and stacking chairs on your table as they did in Poltergeist in what I still think is the scariest ghost story movie ever made, these ghosts come for you, and you don't get to come back.

"…will scare some, amuse and confuse others…does not live up to potential."

The film got off, as so many of these types of films do, in a very confusing and convoluted way. We meet this freaky kid named Josh (Jonathan Tucker) with a Prince Valiant hair cut that I thought was out of fashion 150 years ago, who was supposedly sort of a loaner but still somehow managed to snag an incredibly cute and loyal girlfriend named Mattie (Kristen Bell). The kid is creeping around the top floors of the college library looking for somebody named Douglas Zieglar. We don't know why really. Before he gets too far, though, the film delivers a deliciously scary scene that establishes that this film is going to be scary, very scary, take friends who you can clutch because you are going to be scared out of your mind. I think it would have succeeded better at this if the preview hadn't given away 90% of the scares. I am so sick and tired of the people who make these previews that give way so much. I don't understand why they don't understand that they are ruining movies. Somebody needs to clue them in to a well-known fact—people don't like to pay to see a movie where very joke or every scare or every cool special effect has already been revealed in a preview. Doesn't that stand to reason???? In any case, the film is still very, very, very scary. The special effects are amazing, and the music by Elia Cmira is eerie and frightening to match. Well, Mattie gets a freaky call from Josh, so she goes to see him at his apartment and finds he's taped the windows shut with red tape and he's acting very, very freaky. His computer is going wild showing all these crazy lines of code, and he says, "Stay here." He goes back, hangs himself, and she finds him minutes latter after discovering any manner of decaying, decomposing, creatures in his closets. But, that's not the end of Josh. No, he sends them text messages, instant messages, and emails, from beyond. And this prompts Mattie to try to get his computer and find out what's going on. Through a round about method, the computer turns up in the hands of Dexter McCarthy (Ian Somehalder—can somebody please give this kid roles that are worthy of his talent?) who, fortunately, is a computer genius himself and he soon discovers that Josh was running programs that made it possible for dead people to see and, ultimately, get into our world. But, this, unfortunately, is a little too late because, meanwhile, Josh's programs have spread like a virus all over the world unlocking every portal everywhere for these crossovers to occur. And pretty soon, Pulse turns from scary ghost story into scary zombie-like story as well. And what could be scarier than a zombie ghost movie?

So, I'm watching this movie, scared out of my mind, sitting there realizing that it's ok, because it's only like 7 p.m. and it's going to be light out when it's over, so I can drive home without being really, really scared, when the film starts to take some turns that sank it for me. Here I was all prepared to rate this the scariest movie of the summer—actually, it still might be the scariest movie of the summer—when the plot changed. Something happened. It went from being super scary to "how dumb can Mattie and Dexter be?" You know how when people in scary movies suddenly get all brave and start to do things that there is no possible way they are going to work or that any normal person would be brave enough to do them. Well, Mattie and Dexter decide to close the gate on ghost world. And this leads to some amazingly scary scenes including the one featured on the poster that is one of the creepiest and freakiest images I've seen since Pinhead of Hellraiser. And these scenes are good except that nothing in the film up to now has led us really to believe that Mattie and Dexter would have the courage, resolve, and wherewithal to do what they do. That is sort of a problem. It seems out of character for these two to decide to try to save the world. Worse, one part has Mattie really going it alone as Dexter gets trapped behind. Well, then, unfortunately, the film takes the turn off the road of "either these people are just stupid or they're the bravest people on earth probably they are just stupid" and turned on to the road of "look we've got only 5 minutes left, we probably need to leave this open somehow for a sequel; and actually, come to think of it, we really never figured out how to end this properly so let's just whip up something that will be sort of scary but then will borrow a bit from Linda Hamilton's soliloquy in Terminator 2—you know where she starts talking about how the world is different now". Blah! Arggh! Ughh! No! I was going to go as far as saying that this was a brilliantly scary concept that got executed and finished in such a haphazard way as to have completely sunk it. And then it hit me. Did I not mention Poltergeist above? Did I not say it was the scariest ghost story movie of all time? Wait a minute. How did the ghosts communicate with little Carol Anne? Yeah, didn't they talk to her through the snow static frequency on the tv? And, wait, didn't they come out and grab her and take her back because they wanted her life force? I guess I have to take back the "brilliantly scary concept" when actually this is not a new scary concept at all, it's a borrowed amplified one that's already been used. Well, realizing this just really blew it for me. If you want to see a really, really scary movie that taps into all of your childhood fears, my advice would be to rent Poltergeist instead. It's a guaranteed scary movie. Pulse, will scare some, amuse and confuse others, yet certainly does not live up to potential.

Related Products from Amazon.com
Other Projects Starring: Kristen BellIan Somerhalder
Christina MilianRick GonzalezJonathan Tucker
Samm Levine
Other Projects Written or Directed by:
Kiyoshi KurosawaWes Craven
Other Soundtracks by: Elia Cmiral

Pulse (2006) Review-lite [150-word cap]
Director Jim Sonzero, using a screenplay co-written by Wes Craven, has remade the Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japanese ghost story film Kairo. At first glance, it seemed Pulse was destined to be known as the grand daddy of all ghost stories. Pulse is not just about one ghost, it is about every ghost who has ever died wanting, not just revenge, but to be back…ALIVE. Just when it starts to get really good and really freaky and incredibly scary, however, the film takes a turn for the worse. And, then it dawns on me the premise is sort of borrowed loosely from Poltergeist, and probably a better thing for me to recommend would be for people to rent Poltergeist than to spend their time and money on this film. It is disappointing because this film has so much potential and, really, it is terribly scary in parts despite its many other failings.

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