Thursday, October 11, 2012

Final Girl Film Club - Pulse / Kairo (2001)

Throughout October, Cody will be participating in the Final Girl Film Club SHOCKtober event with articles posted on a different movie every day of the month.

Today, Pulse / Kairo tries to make a connection.

Pulse, or Kairo to those who call it by its Japanese title, follows two storylines. One centers on a girl named Michi as she deals with strange events surrounding her co-workers, starting with one of them killing himself when she stops by his apartment to pick up a computer disk he's been working on. The other follows a young man named Ryosuke, who has decided it's about time that he join the rest of the world on the internet. As soon as he gets the net set up, a website brings itself up on his computer showing him video images of people in their homes, standing in their rooms, sitting on their couch, rolling around on the floor, sleeping at their desk, before a screen comes up that asks him: "Would you like to meet a ghost?" If Ryosuke closes the window, the site just brings itself back up.

As Michi tries to figure out what drove her co-worker to suicide and why others around her are starting to act strangely and Ryosuke looks for answers regarding the weird website, both of them are witness to ghostly images and events. Soon people all around Japan are committing suicide or completely disappearing en masse, and the stories of the two characters the film follows converge in the third act, just in time for what might be the end of the world.

Dawn of the Dead prophesied that when there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth. Similarly, a character in Pulse hypothesizes that the realm of spirits has reached capacity and is now overflowing into ours, the ghosts entering the realm of the living through internet connections.

No movie is for everyone, and anyone who's been following these SHOCKtober posts could have predicted that Pulse would not be for me. I've said that I find it hard to get into most Asian horror movies, that I find a lot of Asian horror movies to be too long and too slow, and that I'm not very interested in ghost stories. And here we have a slowly paced, two hour long Japanese ghost story.

Pulse has some interesting ideas, but it drags its feet for an hour before really giving a reason to be intrigued. The movie has something to say about isolation, loneliness and personal connections in the days of modern technology, but the delivery of those ideas did not work for me at all. I found the movie to be nonsensical, excruciatingly slow, and I wasn't interested in the characters at all, I didn't care what they were doing, which usually wasn't much. Most of the running time, which is a good thirty minutes too long, consists of people staring at computer screens, delivering lines like they're half asleep, and very slowly reacting to weird sights.

This movie is pretty well regarded overall and I may not be one of them, but it does have a lot of fans. Many people were scared by it, I've even seen it called the scariest movie ever made. Mileage varies.
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