Pulse (2006)

"Bad"

Pulse (2006) Review


Earlier in 2006, a killer videogame stalked teenagers in Stay Alive; Pulse ups the ante with ghostly wireless signals stalking college students. The latest J-horror remake never pitches itself over the top, refusing to pile on the jump-scares, fake-jump-scares, and the accompanying soundtrack blasts; instead, it takes a low-key approach... along the way becoming completely unconvincing and almost prodigiously unscary. Boring is the new ridiculous.

It's a shame, too, because computer-centric horror is usually a good bet for ridiculousness. Here, the computer stuff isn't detailed enough to really bug the geeks; they'll be too busy pointing out how the movie's screenplay could be improved, and how Kristen Bell takes one of the most disappointing baths in horror history.

When part-time hacker Josh (Jonathan Tucker; apparently he must die) commits suicide, his ex-girlfriend Mattie (Kristen Bell) is unnerved and desperate to find out why. Because this is a J-horror remake, it inevitably has something to do with black-and-white spirits who advance in slow, herky-jerk movements (apparently, a generation of horror filmmakers have been traumatized by the dullness of old-timey home movies). The one somewhat fresh aspect of Pulse is that it's not a case of a single screechy ghost killing anyone unlucky enough to walk into certain rooms. Once the haunting is "let in," as the vague explanation is inevitably whispered, mankind - so dependent on computers and cell phones and, um, washing machines - is kinda screwed.

This attempted scope -- the break from the bloodless-slasher pattern of other PG-13 horror movies -- is admirable in theory, and it's good for a few eerie empty-street moments. But mostly the movie portrays the end of the world as a listless affair, and not in a Beckett sort of way. The amount of time it takes for Josh's friends to investigate his strange behavior, their other friends' disappearances, and the coming apocalypse is excruciating even by genre standards.

The casting of those friends could've made for a good time. It's never encouraging when a movie collects a gaggle of TV actors and somehow fails to make even one of them as interesting as their small-screen characters (especially when one of those characters is a second-string Lost castaway). Expecting Kristen Bell to create a horror-movie character as shaded and winning as TV's Veronica Mars would be futile for almost any movie, but Pulse gives her as little as possible, which in this case means a lot of walking, looking, and calling out names. Samm Levine, one of the Freaks and Geeks kids and a natural comedian, offers a perfect opportunity for the filmmakers to elevate typical horror-movie comic relief, but the movie is too perfunctory even for a little face-saving improvisation. Instead Levine and Rick Gonzalez (charming in Roll Bounce) are confined to the same cardboard supporting-actor purgatory.

There are a handful of eye-catching sights in Pulse, as when Somerhalder walks through a server room that shimmers and, yes, pulsates around him with otherworldly menace, but there's so little context provided that you want to fill in the blanks yourself, trying to think of reasons this might be considered creepy. It's DIY horror: a good concept, a likable cast, desolate images. To make scary, just add something else. Anything. Please.

They're just trying to take her pulse.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Jim Sonzero

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.