by Caballero Oscuro
Japanese horror films have been on a roll in the US the past few years, so it comes as no surprise that latest arrival, Pulse, has found its way to our DVD shelves, although it took nearly five years from its original theatrical release. Following in the footsteps of The Ring, The Grudge, and Dark Water, it has also been deemed worthy of a US remake, no doubt sealing the decision to finally release the original here. The similarities carry over to the subject matter as well, which ends up being both a blessing and a curse.
The simple description of Pulse is The Ring with computers instead of videotapes, but thereâ€™s much more behind the idea. Instead of The Ring's focus on one spiritâ€™s quest for revenge and companionship from beyond the grave, Pulse takes the scenario a gigantic leap forward with the interesting concept of what might happen if the souls of the dead outgrew the confines of their current realm and sought new homes among the living. Unfortunately for the living world, all of those souls have been very lonely in the spirit world and can only seek comfort by having living people commit suicide to join them. This sets up a tale that takes on apocalyptic proportions by the end of the film, although the worldwide scope isnâ€™t made clear until the final moments.
The spirit foray into the living world begins with shadowy, jerky computer images that ask viewers if they would like to visit a website to meet ghosts. Sounds like a Match.com experiment gone awry, but the hapless viewers canâ€™t refuse this creepy offer in spite of their best efforts since the images continue to appear even when their Internet connections are terminated. The main plot follows one computer newbie who sees the images at his home and reports them to a couple of university computer lab workers in the hopes of finding out how to stop them or at least determine where theyâ€™re coming from. While they carry out their investigation, they learn of an exponentially growing suicide rate that begins to include their friends and colleagues.