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Pulse (Kairo) (Unrated)

Release Date: November 9th, 2005 (NYC-IFC Center) by Magnolia Pictures. The Cast: Haruhiko Kato, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo, Shinji Takeda, Jun Fubuki.
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
In Japanese with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A group of friends deal with the supernatural when a mysterious website leads to suicides.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Pulse (Kairo) manages to be more chilling than scary with no use of gore. Just like inJu-On: The Grudge , it relies more on shadows and sound effects to generate an eerie mood rather than shock value alone. As a mystery, this film works quite well because it’s difficult to figure what the evil entity actually is or what it really wants from the characters.. Ryoshuke (Kato) and Harue (Koyuki) are the main characters, but they’re not memorable enough for one to actually care about them. What you truly end up caring about is precisely what they care about: uncovering the mystery behind all the strange events. At first, the plot plays out like there’s a “ghost in the machine”, but that doesn’t last for very long. The world that these characters inhabit doesn’t reflect much of the real world other than the use of computers and the internet, but even as a unique world of its own, there’s not enough creativity. It would have been much more engaging if the audience would have more information than the characters do because, as it is, the mystery goes on and on for too long, which makes the plot seem often redundant and even frustrating. For two-thirds of the film, the pacing is effectively slow with very little action, but, all-of-a-sudden, the action picks up in the Third Act. The transition is simply too unnatural, inconsistent and ultimately confusing.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s interesting that director Kiyoshi Kurosawa chose to use the internet as a potential medium for evil to travel through. If only he went further with this social commentary with more dialogue, Pulse (Kairo) would have been much more thought-provoking.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Redundant, minimal character development, and a chaotic, confusing Third Act.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Chilling visuals and sound effects, but weak character and plot development don’t add up to any truly scary or haunting moments.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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