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Pulse (2006): **½

Directed by Jim Sonzero

Yet another remake of a Japanese horror movie, Pulse gets the star treatment by having the screenplay co-written by horror legend Wes Craven. It also stars Veronica Mars. As a basic horror movie it is basically pretty good, though it ultimately didn't really stick with me.

The mood is relentlessly tense and depressing. Everything looks like it's rotting and falling apart. The film is tinted blue at all times. The college these kids attend is pretty nightmarish (except for the psychiatrist's office). The special effects are pretty effective, with only a couple of cringe-worthy CGI moments. The best horror element, though, is the sound design full of creepy, indistinct sounds that are just this side of being identifiable.

Plus it was actually kind of refreshing to see a modern horror movie in which the main characters (and indeed everyone in the world) just straight-up lose in the end. Sure, in many horror movies there is a twist at the end and so what you thought was a happy ending really wasn't. But in this film the characters come up with this big plan to stop the phantom menace (I had to say it once during this review), and the plan simply fails and they're forced to run for their lives.

My main problem with this movie is that it is an epic that isn't done well. By epic I mean a movie where the problem is global, like George A. Romero's Dead movies. Over the course of this movie the phantoms start leaking out all over the world, and by the end they own every corner of the globe in range of a cell tower. And it apparently takes several weeks for this to happen, but I'm not really sure on that point because all we get are little snippets. We'll see a scene, and then we'll see another scene, and the world has changed in between and we're not sure how much time has passed or what exactly has been going on, even though there is no reason for the characters not to know this information. Sometimes the characters in the movie seem to be

In the Dead movies there is this global ghoul problem, but for the most part the characters are as much in the dark about it as we are. In Pulse, all we get are some off-hand remarks and a couple of snippets of newscasts, when there is no reason why there wouldn't be more information available to these characters, and therefore to the audience. I guess what I'm trying to say is that at no point during the movie (except at the very beginning and the very end) did I ever really get a feeling for what it was like to reallylive in this rapidly changing world. The film ultimately did not have very much impact on me because it seemed like there was this wall separating me from the world and its characters.

I could enjoy the film for its surface level of tension and scares, but when a film tackles an epic situation like this, it needs to do it right.

There is one thing about the movie that really, really confused me, though. Why is it called Pulse?

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