To say Wes Craven's rewrite of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 PULSE isn't as bad as it could have been sounds like faint praise, but Kurosawa's PULSE is one of the true masterpieces of recent Asian horror, and the track record for Hollywood horror redos isn't great. Still, this fairly close remake, which wound up in the hands of director Jim Sonzero after Craven dropped out (leaving behind his original screenplay), isn't without problems. Like most of her university friends, psychology major Mattie Webber (Veronica Mars's Kristin Bell) stays connected to the world around her primarily through electronic devices: She IMs pals Isabell (Christina Milian), Stone (Rick Gonzalez) and Tim (Samm Levine), keeps in touch with her mother via cell phone and has let her relationship with her computer-hacker boyfriend, Josh (Jonathan Tucker), devolve into a series of text messages. When she finally pays Josh a visit, Mattie finds him a deeply depressed, hollow-eyed shadow of his former self. Politely excusing himself for a moment, Josh stumbles into the next room and hangs himself with a telephone cord. Mattie and her friends then start getting IMs from Josh's computer begging for help, but when Stone breaks into Josh's place, he finds the computer missing and realizes he's not the only presence there. Mattie tracks Josh's computer to scruffy, blue-eyed hacker Dexter McCarthy (Lost's Ian Somerhalder), who discovers that Josh was receiving a regular webcam feed that first asks users whether they'd like to meet a ghost, then introduces them to a series of blurry transmissions featuring sad-eyed men and women, all apparently at death's door. When Stone sinks into the same dark funk that preceded Josh's death, and the local news reports on what appears to be an epidemic of local suicides, Mattie begins to suspect that those computer ghosts have found a way to cross back into the world of the living. Craven's script tries to retain Kurosawa's grim, apocalyptic vision and to capture the consummate irony that the very technology we think keeps us connected has actually turned us into isolated, lonely ghosts. But the film's insistence on certain Hollywood horror conventions — an action-packed climax; the need to spell everything out; the existence of hope where Kurosawa clearly saw none — is at odds with the source, and the film relies too heavily on Chris Cunningham's video for Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" for visual ideas. Sonzero flubs the icy scares by turning the dead into garden-variety life-force vampires instead of haunting, pathetically melancholy ghosts whose lonely afterlife would have given Sartre himself a cold chill.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: R
- Review: To say Wes Craven's rewrite of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 PULSE isn't as bad as it could have been sounds like faint praise, but Kurosawa's PULSE is one of the true masterpieces of recent Asian horror, and the track record for Hollywood horror redos isn't gre… (more)