Pulse Review

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After a college student commits suicide, his friend Mattie (Bell) links his death to a string of similar incidents in the area. She soon discovers that supernatural forces are being unleashed, and modern technology is the likely conduit.


Given the number of genuinely scary things you can stumble across on the internet, downloading a demonic force onto your hard drive might seem like one of the more benign possibilities. Nevertheless, it’s this devilish conceit, rather than pictures of naked grannies, that forms the premise of Pulse, a remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Japanese horror Kairo.

Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell takes on heroine duties, joining fellow TV veterans Ron Rifkin and Ian Somerhalder to put on a convincingly terrified-yet-intrepid show, but it’s shortcomings behind the camera that are the main problem here. Fledgling director Jim Sonzero is clearly out of his depth, floundering in his search for a single solid scare. The reliance on hackneyed genre clichés is lamentable, and while they might have gotten away with it in a more artful tale, it’s a real handicap in a film predicated on haunted wi-fi.

What’s worse, this updated version all but obscures the original film’s meditation on the agony of loneliness, glossing over its argument that modern communication technology isolates us rather than drawing people together. With nothing meaningful to read between the lines and a Luddite agenda that barely survives the translation, there’s little here beyond
a vaguely creepy yarn with instant messaging from beyond the grave.

An unrewarding experience that won’t scare you, but might make you think twice before opening email attachments.