Pulse (2006) review
Japanese horror films are some of the most terrifying in the genre. When they are successful in Japan, that usually means it is only a matter of time before we see an American remake, which is exactly what we have here. Sometimes this is a very successful move, and you get movies like The Grudge and The Ring, two of my favorite horror movies. Other times, what you get is a movie that just doesn’t translate well because the American style of horror is so different. I would say this film falls somewhere in the middle. It was entertaining and it had a few moments that made me jump, but overall it felt like a lukewarm entry into the genre.
Pulse (2006) was directed by Jim Sonzero and written by Wes Craven and Ray Wright. It is a remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Japanese horror film Kairo (2001). It stars Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder. Mattie Webber (Bell) is a college student who is upset when she doesn’t hear from her boyfriend Josh for several days. When she shows up to his apartment, he acts very different. He wanders into his room and tells her to wait. After a few minutes she goes in to see what he is doing and finds that he has hung himself. Mattie knows there is something more to his suicide and it has to do with his computer. She decides to start investigating with the help of a hacker named Dex (Somerhalder). Meanwhile people start disappearing all over the campus and Mattie finds that the answers she is looking for are far more dark and sinister than she could have imagined.
The acting was quite good, and I liked the quick cameo from Octavia Spencer. However the film felt longer than it needed to be. Where the film fell short for me was in some of the drawn out footage sequences. I would say a good half of the movie was computer images and videos. There were moments when the footage didn’t really make sense or match up with what was going on in the scene. If this was done to create a more chilling atmosphere, it was a waste of time because the gritty, creepy vibe was already there everytime one of the spirits appeared in the room out of nowhere.
One thing I really enjoyed about this film was that it wasn’t just the core group of characters that was affected. Usually in horror films, you have your small group of 2 - 5 protagonists that are being hunted and butchered one by one, for one reason or another. This film, however, abandoned that structure and made the evil entity become a worldwide epidemic, which is a bit more complicated for a horror movie than usual.
I have always enjoyed Wes Craven films. In fact, A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the films that got me into horror. Also the Scream series came out when I was in high school and I loved them all. However, I feel with Pulse, Craven is really starting to show his age. There was an underlying theme going on here that technology can lead to the fall of mankind, and that kind of idea sounds like an older generation kind of concept. Also, he only helped write it. I feel like if he would have had a hand in directing it, the movie would have been more well rounded and successful.
Overall it was decent, but if you are a Wes Craven fan, don’t expect this to hold up to his classic works. Also, don’t expect a perfect remake of a Japanese movie that was probably much better.
- Pulse had a budget of 20.5 million dollars, and the worldwide gross is 29.9 million dollars.
- This film was released on August 11, 2006, it was produced by the Weinstein Company and distributed by Dimension Films.
- This film was shot in California and Romania.
- Bob and Harvey Weinstein were initially hesitant to produce this film, considering it to be too similar to The Ring (2002), another Japanese horror film.
- The opening scene in the library was shot in 5 hours.
- Originally scheduled to be released on March 3, 2006, the movie was pushed back to July 14, and then pushed back to the final release date of August 11, 2006.
- This is the directorial debut and final film for Jim Sonzero.
- In an interview with Fangoria, Wes Craven disowned the film and said he hated it. His original screenplay was significantly altered by Ray Wright with various re-writes, and the final film barely resembles his original vision. He ultimately claimed that he had no involvement in the released film.