In a film about suicide, it’s a miracle I made it out of the theater before killing myself.
Back in 2001, before the Asian horror explosion, I was introduced to the Asian horror universe by a few small films you may know: Dark Water, Ringu, Versus, Battle Royale and, you got it, Pulse (also known as Kairo). The film that really shook my world and enlightened my horror psyche was Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s original Pulse, which is why I find it so ironic that five years later I just watched the film that could end the Asian horror boom here in the States.
In Dimension Films’ remake of the apocalyptic pic, Josh (Jonathan Tucker) unleashes a virus onto the world that is actually ghosts trying to re-enter our world. When an epidemic of suicides spread across the country, Mattie (Kristen Bell) finds herself caught in the middle of the attack as she tries to understand the clues her boyfriend Josh left behind.
The original film was quite abstract and there really wasn’t much of an explanation to what was going on. All we knew was that ghosts were attacking through technology, red tape keeps them out and that the end of the world was near. The lack of an explanation only added to the terrifying conclusion, which is one of the main reasons this remake falls flat on its face. Much like Lady in the Water, the film suffers from way too much exposition. Seriously, how dumb do these writers think American audiences are? Someone should have sat the filmmakers down in front of Gore Verbinski’s The Ring so they could see how to make a scary movie without all of the jibber-jabber. There’s nothing worse than having a character be asked, “what’s going on,” and have them reply, “what’s going on is…” I am in a movie theater, I’m watching moving pictures, I don’t need you to tell me a story with words – I’d get a book if that’s what I wanted.
Visually the movie was missing one of the most important things from the original, a good representation of “isolation” and “apocolyptic”. The world is coming to an end, the streets are empty and people are nowhere to be seen, so why did it just seem like they were walking through the alleys of NY late at night? There should have been dozens of abandoned cars, looted stores, paper everywhere and so on. The set design was horrendous and tremendously hurt the emotional content of the film.
I really felt like Wes Craven took the story, gutted it open and removed the heart of the project. This is one of those movies that felt manufactured for the PG-13 crowd. Besides the fact that the coolest death scene was removed from the film (the suicide off of a water tower), I don’t think we actually saw anyone die first had… or at all for that matter. We either saw the aftermath, saw nothing at all, or saw people explode into ash. Most horror films incorporate death, especially if it involves the apocalypse and millions of people dying. And don’t even get me started on the fake scares, the audience busted out laughing on two occasions.
The movie really was a disaster from start to finish; even the sound design was a joke. I’m not kidding when I say this, there was a scene that sounded like light sabers were being swung around the screen – it was so hilarious in fact that my group all pulled out our fake sabers and started to have a small battle in the middle of our row (I won of course).
In the midst of the madness and constant disappointment there were a few gems hiding deep within the dirt. If you’ve seen the poster you know there’s a tremendous sequence involving thousands of ghosts engulfing Kristin Bell in arms. There was also a bad ass scene where one of our heroes ends up half-burned into a wall still alive. It’s just a shame that the film was aiming to be a PG-13 Saw instead of another Ring.
As we were walking out of the screening we could hear numerous kids saying that the film was “too scary;” if that’s the case then either MTV isn’t polluting kid’s minds like I thought or we just live in a sad, sad world where flash cutting and loud sounds scare people. If you scream at a dog loud enough they will stick their tail between their legs, I guess the same theory can be applied to Pulse… only if you keep screaming in my face I’ll just give you the finger.