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AKA: Pulse

Creepy stuff from Kairo.
Year: 2001
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo
The Skinny: Perhaps Kiyoshi Kurosawa's best film to date, Pulse is completely without flash or cheap thrills, and instead relies on impressive directoral chops and a relentlessly brooding atmosphere.
by RainDog:

     Taking place in modern Tokyo, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse (Kairo) starts very small. A young woman from a plant nursery goes to pick up a computer disk from a colleague who hasn't been heard from for a number of days. She finds him home alone, and the two talk briefly before the man goes into another room and performs a sudden and almost disinterested suicide. From this point the film deals with the mysterious goings on, from random suicides and disappearances, computers that ask, "Would you like to meet a ghost?" to a number of red-tape sealed "Forbidden Rooms," in a persistent bad dream for the characters. There is a very clear story here, though the story ultimately seems less important than the emotions Kurosawa slowly coaxes out of the viewer.
     Starring a cast of largely unknown actors who excellently underplay their parts, Pulse is a natural extension of Kurosawa's 1997's Cure (Kyua), about a series of unmotivated (and seemingly unstoppable) murders, and 1999's Charisma (Karisuma). Kurosawa's world in these films is one of coldness and isolation, but never unnaturally so. It's so natural that when a computer assisted sequence appears near the end of Pulse, it's almost jarring. If Cure was the story of doom on a personal scale, and Charisma a step above that, then Pulse is the coda, the story of a quiet apocalypse.
     The cool oppressiveness of Pulse doesn't really jar the viewer with a few well crafted scenes, but with an effective soundtrack (minus a horrible end credit pop song), a persistently dark color palette, and a single-minded seriousness that never blinks. By the time it's hooked the viewer, scenes that might normally seem innocent or staged take on an edge of menacing coldness. Even something as simple as shots of the characters riding a bus, each the only passenger with the muted backdrop of highway supports passing out-of-focus through the bus windows, adds to the feeling that the world isn't a comforting place. One of the scariest moments in the film involves a stark gray room and the sudden appearance of an unarmed and not very intimidating woman who, by simply walking, manages to evoke far more raw chills than Jason Voorhees in his hockey mask with a bloody machete.
     Much of Pulse is spent with the implication that something horrible is going on, and even worse, that there's absolutely nothing the characters can do to stop it from happening, even after they figure out what's what. The camera itself is like an uncaring spectator, at times unmoving or slowly turning to follow the action. This is not a movie done in two-cuts-a-second, and probably wouldn't be a fun movie to show at a party with drinking involved. I'm pretty sure there's not a single joke in the entire movie and while there are quite a few deaths, many of them occur offscreen or with a bloodless dispassion.
     Pulse features a beautiful story and direction, and possesses an art film quality with a strong message about increasing isolation (from ourselves, our society, and our values) and about loneliness in general. However, I'll also say that this is gripping stuff and — because of its expertly managed atmosphere — never boring. I enjoyed Wes Craven's Scream because I was in the mood for a clever, fun movie. I enjoyed Pulse because it was a smart, creepy movie that I was still thinking about long after the film ended. (RainDog 2002)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Laser
Japanese Language Track
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

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 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen