21 Nov 2006   Reviews

A review of PULSE

Stunning visuals, silly heroes. Great potential, bad execution.

I like J-Horror. The main reason is that they find interesting stories besides the “bad house gets evil”-plot or the “teenage girl gets sliced up”-story we all know so well. Japanese seem to tend to search for stories about small things from daily and normal life which are misused from the dead – or not so dead – which makes those kinds of movies interesting to me, as they explore more than often different themes. Of course the best example is “The Ring” or “Ringu” – in which a video cassette and serial letters get a whole new meaning and dimension.

Now, here is “Pulse”, a remake of the J-Horror ‘Kairo’ which deals with the Internet, WLan and mobiles, and how the ghosts are using it for their efforts – to steal life from the living. The main characters of this movie somehow or not have something to do with this but in the end it is the end.

OK, the sounds a little bit silly and you see but it shows you the big problem of this movie – the passiveness. One of the main reasons that this movie doesn’t work well is the protagonist – Mattie Webber, played by Kristen Bell. Since ‘The DaVinci Code’ I have never seen a protagonist as passive as her, stumbling through the movie not knowing what she wants to do or has to do. This passiveness also leads to one of the most hilarious moments when she tells her friend she knows that another friend of her is soon gonna die. Now, instead of doing something to try to prevent it she does…nothing. Believe me, the supporting actors do more of the job she should do: doing research, finding the source etc etc. The things the protagonist did in ‘The Ring’ for example. But despite the silly execution and big amount of passiveness I think this setting has some tremendous amount of potential since the Internet and technology today can be found everywhere. It is only that the rough diamond of the setting was never polished by the writer and the director.

The shocks were also more or less mediocre. There was nothing terribly new where you’d think ‘Wow, now that was…’. I cringed one time which is a really low score for movie trying to do exactly this – scaring the shit out of you. The gore factor was low or almost non-existent which was not a bad thing but it could have been much better.

Nevertheless ‘Pulse’ has one big plus. This movie has stunning visuals. You get everything. From dark apartments as in ‘Seven’ to cold modern city atmospheres as in ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Grudge’. Almost every scene, shot and take looks great. Most of the time the color palette is shifted into the greenish-blue which adds a lot to the visual atmosphere, not to talk about the sometimes remarkable lightning setups. This movie is a visual feast.

In many way you can compare ‘Pulse’ with ‘Silent Hill’. The visuals are gorgeous but there are many flaws in the script that darkens the impression whereas ‘Silent Hill’ scores a lot higher than ‘Pulse’ regarding the plot.

So, if you can sit in a movie theater or in your living room and enjoy a movie on a pure visual level this movie is absolutely for you. If you can enjoy simple horror movies this movie is for you. If you search for a movie that scares the shit out of you or has a great plot then this movie is not for you. If I had to put it down into a grade I would give this movie a 5 out of 10 for its visuals.

In some years there is perhaps a writer/director-combo that creates a movie from this story idea that we all will love: a movie that looks great, has interesting characters AND a great plot.

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