Before 'The Grudge', before 'Dark Water', there was 'Pulse', one of the scariest films ever made from the master of Japanese horror, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. At Sunny Planet Sales in Tokyo, a group of friends are concerned about Taguchi, a colleague who owes them a computer disc for a project and hasn't been returning phone calls. When co-worker Michi (Kumiko Aso) visits Taguchi's apartment to check on him, he seems fine. But within minutes, Taguchi has hanged himself. Michi flees the apartment, taking the disc, which may contain the most deadly computer virus ever created... When Taguchi subsequently reappears as a ghostly presence on their computer and video screens, is he trying to contact his friends from beyond the grave or is there something more sinister afoot? Soon, there are more sudden deaths and disappearances within the group, terrifying rooms sealed in red tape, and the appearance of more ghosts as the city of Tokyo - and the world - is slowly drained of life.
Pulse has to be one of the most captivating supernatural horror films I have seen for a long while. While the main plot of 'Pulse' revolves around a group of young friends investigating another friends death, the underlying theme of the film revolves around the idea that is that after death there is no heaven, no hell, just a miserable eternity of living within an altered state of total isolation. Like a lot of Asian horror 'Pulse' is pretty slow paced, there's absolutely no gore and instead the horror relies on a slow build up of anxiety and trepidation. The look of the film is superb, dark skies, deserted streets, crawling shadows and a haunting soundtrack adds to the menacing atmosphere. A must see for fans of Asian horror.
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- Pulse review by CP Customer
I found Pulse to be disappointing. A cast of twenty-somethings make ideal fodder for this lite J-Horror. There's no doubting the skill of Kurosawan but here it feels as if he is tired of the genre and struggling to maintain his interest. The limitations of the CGI (towards the end) is very apparent, and the plot is far from coherent. Pulse or Kario as its known takes the Invasion of the Body Snatchers ethic and mashes it up into a modern vision of horror. Still, it does have some standout moments and leaves an impression, despite the poor finale. This director can do better.
Without spoiling too much, I'd just say that the first 2/3rds of this film is an extremely creepy low-key horror film and at points I found it hard to keep watching because of the deeply insidious nature of it. If you know any of K. Kurosawa's work, you'll know he tends toward a more existential and slow-burning take on things and this is no different. There are no jump scares or action sequences, just a very unsettling atmosphere with a few terrifying moments.
That said, like many of his flims, it becomes completely ridiculous in its final third and that somewhat spoils it. Even so, I'd still rate this up there with the finest J-Horror films of its era.
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