Rating 2

Directed by Jim Sonzero

Written by Wes Craven and Ray Wright, based on an original screenplay by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Starring Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder, Jonathan Tucker, Christina Milian, Rick Gonzalez, Samm Levine, Ron Rifkin, Zach Grenier, Kel O’Neill and Joseph Gatt

The story is set on an austere and rather nondescript university campus. When Josh (Jonathan Tucker) commits suicide, his girlfriend Mattie Webber (Kristen Bell) blames herself for not spotting his decline. Then her friends Stone (Rick Gonzalez), Tim (Samm Levine) and Izzie (Christin Milian) start to exhibit the same symptoms as Josh. Dexter McCarthy (Ian Somerhalder) buys Josh’s old computer and discovers some disturbing files on it, seemingly linked to the strange epidemic that sweeps the university campus and beyond into the city and further afield.


Like ‘The Ring’, ‘The Grudge’ and ‘Dark Water’ before it, ‘Pulse’ is a remake of a Japanese horror film. ‘Kairo’ was made in 2001 by the writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. This remake premiered in American cinemas in August 2006. ‘The Ring’ grossed a remarkable $249 million at the box office, more even than ‘The Blair Witch Project’, and ‘The Grudge’ grossed an impressive $187 million. However, subsequent J-horror remakes saw diminishing returns and ‘Pulse’ stalled at a little under £30 million, against a production budget of $20.5 million.

The selling point of the film was the presence of two young actors who had made their names via television series; Kristen Bell as the star of ‘Veronica Mars’ and Ian Somerhalder in ‘Lost’ and before that ‘Smallville’. The adapted screenplay was co-written by the acclaimed horror film director Wes Craven.

The film is derivative and offers nothing that hasn’t been done in countless other films, often better. The actors, who also include Rick Gonzalez, one of the regular cast of ‘Reaper’, and Ron Rifkin from ‘Brothers and Sisters’, do what they can with what amounts to a very stale and threadbare script, but they cannot save the film from its mediocre fate. It starts off well enough, but quickly goes downhill, especially in the latter stages. What is most disheartening is that the screenwriters and the director seem to have completely missed the point made in the original and have sucked the life out of the story.

Taking the Japanese original out of the equation, ‘Pulse’ is a middling horror film that is not entirely without merit. It is over-reliant on largely uninteresting special effects, but eschews gore and just about does what is expected of it.

Review posted on 6 February 2009


No comments: