Pulse (Kairo) (JP) (V)

As written in early 2004

Pulse, also known as Kairo and Circuit, was directed by the legendary Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who’s breakthrough film, Cure (1997) proved he knows horror better than the rest. Kurosawa should be considered one of the most important filmmakers to work in the horror genre- in Japan or elsewhere. He is known for his artistic attributes to his films, while also filling his films with significance and meaning.

His newest film, Kairo, is doing so well internationally and at local festivals (back in 2004) that Wes Craven has purchased the rights for another Asian remake here in the States. Kairo is about a string of suicides in Tokyo that seemed to be linked to the internet, strange things begin happening to a group of young residents. One of them has visions of his dead friend in the shadows on the wall, while another’s computer keeps showing strange, ghostly images. As they embark on a mission to figure out what is wrong, things get weirder and weirder. Kairo is said to be one of Kiyoshi Kurosaw’s best films yet.

Kairo, like Ringu is setting a new standard in Japanese horror, with its dark visual style, unique editing, and it’s slow-paced (yet unnerving) storyline. Jian Gui (The Eye) is one of the latest to follow Kurosawa’s mystical techniques and is just as popular, if not more popular than Kairo.

The visual style is simply amazing, it has a feel of Dark City and The Crow, but better. The movie starts out in a light and happy Japan, only to end with one of the most ghastly looking ghost towns I’ve ever witnessed. The skies are filled with a dark mist, and the silence is overwhelming- take the opening sequence from Vanilla Sky and add the atmosphere of the The Crow and you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.

The scenes that take place within some of the kid’s apartments have the same feel, only there are ghostly apparitions who make appearances. What appears to be one of their friends on the far wall becomes nothing more than a burn on the wall when approached. Ghostly images appear on computer screens without warning and even freak out computer experts who cant figure out what’s going on.

The question asked throughout the movie is who, or what is doing this, and where is everyone vanishing to? Whether it’s me or not, there is no clear answer by the end, which leaves you with an unsettling feeling. You’re left with dark skies, quiet streets and more dark visual effects that leave you with a chill.

Another factor that makesKairo such a feat is that the storyline is very slow paced, with little action. Anyone who knows Kurosawa knows that his movies often are slow paced but the mystery is so captivating time flies with a single blink and then movie is over, even when its two-hours long! The story is told so well and paced perfectly, if the movie moved too quickly the effect wouldn’t have been there. When Kairo is over, you actually feel like the movie infected you like the video would in Ringu or the mysterious figure in Kairo would. This is a must see film from the Japanese film world, they are taking horror to new levels, and playing with your emotions, I can’t wait to see what comes out next!

Official Score