Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The ghosts in the machine.

I feel like I can't really fault Pulse (2006) because it's trying so damn hard and I watched it for free on Netflix. But I realize I have three readers in Croatia who will be dissapointed if this post doesn't go up.

The basic premise of Pulse is that ghosts are after us... through our wi-fi. Yet another movie based on an Asian horror film but there are some promising aspects - it has Kristin Bell and is co-written by Wes Craven which is why I gave it a shot. I felt dubious about it from the beginning as the movie was release in 2006 and these were the opening credits:

All it made me want to do is watch The Net (1995).  I guess that's the fate of any technology based film. Within a year of being released it's bound to be outdated. I was wondering why the characters had these clunkers:
instead of iPhones. Then I kept remembering it was 2006 in the movie. Y'know a time when people still used chatrooms to talk to their friends in the same dorm.

But I digress.

Ok, Pulse starts with this guy:

acting all paranoid and getting attacked in the library by this:
Then his girlfriend is all concerned so she tracks him down and he kills himself in front of her. Sad, n'est pas?

But then there's a suicide epidemic and people start killing themselves all over the place because ghosts are taking our will to live. But the one good thing to keep in mind is that K-Bell gets a boyfriend upgrade. From this:
to this:
Good things aside, Pulse falls prey to its own logic. It's so convoluted that even on their 7th attempt (I counted) to explain what the eff was going on they confused themselves again.


I swear the explanation was better in the last draft of the script!
On top of that there is next to no characterization in this film. Kristin Bell's main characteristic is that she's needy and wears a shit-ton of make-up and weird hairstyles. Observe:
Yep, that's about all she does...

I also want to touch on the logic of the film. There is none. The ghosts need to suck out your soul or something then you wander around for a bit until you kill yourself and if you don't kill yourself you turn into ash. Okay, fair enough. But can't the ghosts get you wherever you are? Which is what they seem to be able to for the better part of the film. However, when K-Bell and the male model try to get to a dead zone where they will be safe, ghosts attack!!!

Now, I'm no ghost or car-attack expert, but if you could appear anywhere why wouldn't you appear IN the car? Seriously, it's a 3 minute sequence of the ghost on top of the car and flailing around trying to get at them. Make yourself appear INSIDE then you can suck their faces in a minute, tops.

Maybe I'm being nitpick-y and maybe Pulse is making a good point about how we were extra super dependent on technology back in 2006. But I couldn't get over how much this movie wanted to be The Ring, even down to the blue-tint used through the majority of the film. The Ring makes no sense, but it comes up with a few simple rules and sticks to them. Pulse just seems to be making it up as it goes along.

I actually liked the ending. It gave me hope that the human race would continue to thrive in dead zones and only attractive 20-somethings survived to continue building the society. To be on the safe side, I think it's best to start making friends with your local Amish colony now.

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