Pulse (2001)

DVD Cover (Magnolia Pictures)
Genres: Horror, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Horror
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Kiyoshi Kurosawa Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Haruhiko Kat˘ Haruhiko Kat˘
Kumiko As˘ Kumiko As˘
Koyuki Koyuki
Kurume Arisaka Kurume Arisaka
Masatoshi Matsuo Masatoshi Matsuo
Movie Connections:
> Pulse (2001)
> Pulse (2006)

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 29, 2005
Our movie starts up with Michi (Kumiko Aso) and her two co-workers Yabe (Masatoshi Matsuo) and Junco (Kurume Arisaka) hard at work at the roof-top greenhouse where they're employed. Michi tries to call Taguchi (Kenji Mizuhashi), a friend of hers that is supposed to be working on a computer program for the greenhouse... the problem here is that she can not get in touch with him, and the deadline for the program is tomorrow. Michi has an awful feeling about the situation and decides to go over to his house and see what's going on. Upon arriving, she notices that his apartment is empty, so she starts digging though his cluttered desk in order to find the disc that contains the program. As she's looking for it, she notices a shadow in the next room, and upon investigating, she finds out that it's Taguchi. She asks him what's going on, and although he seems a bit distracted, he tells her that everything is fine and that she can get the disc off of his desk. She goes to the spot that he pointed to, finds the disc, and then turns back around to find Taguchi has once again disappeared. She goes over to the room where he was, and finds that he has committed suicide by hanging himself. Just a bit freaked out over this, she runs back to the greenhouse with the disc in hand and pops it into her computer to see what he came up with. The only thing on the disc is a picture of Taguchi's apartment, with his computer as the centerpiece of the photo. Michi zooms in a bit, and notices a female face staring back at her from the computer screen.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Ryosuke Kawashima (Haruhiko Kato) is setting up his new laptop for internet access. Kawashima hates computers and has no interest in getting online, but decides to go ahead and give it a shot since all of his friends are heavily into it. Upon popping in a CD and signing up for a Ur@nus dial-up connection, he's automatically taken to a web page containing bizarre pictures of what appear to be ghosts. Mesmerized by this, Kawashima keeps watching as the pictures scroll by... but when a message pops up asking him if he'd like to meet a ghost, he comes unglued and turns everything off. The next morning, he wakes up to find out that his laptop has turned itself back on and is once again cycling through the pictures. He unplugs everything and heads over to the computer lab, where he meets computer expert Harue (Koyuki). She seems interested in checking out the website that he tells her about, so she recommends that he bookmark it next time it happens, or if that fails, press Print Screen on his keyboard. As more and more people come into contact with this website, more and more either die, commit suicide, or vanish into thin air. The characters in our completely separate storylines try to unravel the mystery, but will either of them succeed?

This Japanese horror / thriller / drama entry played with the concept of ghostly occurrences surrounding a home computer one year prior to the abomination that was Fear Dot Com, and does a much better job with the material than the Hollywood version did. However, if you're expecting a movie that is pure horror or thriller from start to finish, you'd be well advised to look elsewhere, as this one isn't what you're looking for. Things started up nicely for the horror fans, as we're treated to a number of truly creepy scenes concerning the ghosts and how they interact with the humans. There's no special effects to enhance the ghost visuals, only great usage of lighting and subtle things that occur outside of the focus of the scene in question. There is one particular special effect, though, that definitely ranks high up on my personal "How'd they do that?" list. A woman is walking around on the top of a water tower and then commits suicide by jumping off onto the concrete below. This scene is done in one shot, with no cuts whatsoever... if they threw a dummy off that tower to achieve this effect, it has to be some of the best editing in the history of film. However, after the first half hour passes by, the tone of the movie changes to a drama dealing with loneliness and isolation, with a few horror elements thrown in here and there when needed to further the storyline. Personally, I thought that this approach to the tried-and-true ghost story was excellent, but those who are looking for loads of scares and ghostly happenings would definitely think otherwise. Also, this is one of the first films involving a computer as the main focus that actually used a real computer for the shots; each shot shows that the actors are using Windows NT, and we get to watch Kawashima install a program, connect to the internet, and wait for his pages to load. A small thing, but it was definitely nice to finally see a computer being used in a movie that wasn't completely unrealistic in order to "pretty it up" for a computer-illiterate audience.

However, this is not the perfect film. By far, the largest problem to be found here is the frantic pacing of the scenes, with the result of this being scenes that make little or no sense. We quickly cut from one storyline or character to the next, with minimal transition time between the two... this makes the film seem almost choppy in spots, and does manage to bring the entertainment value down a bit. Also, the movie runs for two hours, but really only has about ninety minutes worth of material. There's parts strewn throughout the run time that aren't exactly padding, but really had little or no relevance to the overall storyline and could have easily been cut to tighten up the flow of the movie. The actors and actresses involved here aren't top-notch performers, but they do a decent enough job with the material given to them. There's a few scenes that could have done with a reshoot in order to give the cast another chance with their lines in an attempt to make them come off better, but it's nothing that would ruin the film for anyone.

Wes Craven has owned the rights to an American remake of this film since 2002, and while there's currently no news about his usage of those rights, you can almost certainly bet your bottom dollar that we'll eventually be treated to Hollywood's take on this film. For now, you can only find this movie on an R3 import DVD, but if the above storyline sounds like something you'd be interested in, I'd advise you to snag a copy. It does have its flaws, but it's well worth a viewing. 7/10 would be my final verdict.
Chad #1: Chad - added 03/30/2005, 02:01 PM
Exactly 24 hours after writing that last paragraph, news comes out that the remake is finally underway under the title "Pulse." Talk about timing.
danimigra #2: danimigra - added 03/20/2008, 03:10 PM
i would say (dont hate me please) i like more the remake... is not that slow as the original.. yes i know... but is how i think.
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