Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Pulse

directed by Jim Sonzero

Pulse poster  
What is it with modern ghosts? Not content with being see-through beings from beyond the grave, they have to flicker on and off in the gloom like malfunctioning TV sets. Even in the afterlife fashions change, and they're getting connected. The digital ghost is becoming a cinematic cliché.

Pulse begins with Josh Ockman, an anxious student who is pursued by shadowy creatures. To call them ghosts is jumping the gun, but they're certainly not creatures of this world.

A few days later Josh's girlfriend, Mattie (Kristen Bell), is wondering where he is. She hasn't seen him in days, but he's behaving oddly and leaving her unusual messages. When she does go to visit him she is confronted by filthy student digs that haven't been cleaned in days. It stinks, and there are things dying in cupboards or living in the fridge, evidence of the kind of decay and neglect that suggests a disturbed mind. Mattie's a psychology student, but she can't make any sense of what is happening.

A spate of suicides breaks out on campus, all with the same hallmarks. People develop strange bruising after getting attacked by the creatures. The bruising spreads around their bodies, and with it goes their will to live. It seems that no-one is immune to this curious plague, and when Mattie's group of friends start to show symptoms things get serious.

Mattie tracks down Dexter (Ian Somerhalder), a guy who bought Josh's stolen computer. The machine is behaving strangely, showing clips of suicides and working even when unplugged, as though it's a haunted computer. Pulse plays to our fears of our over-reliance on technology, and it's full of machines that seem to be connected to some kind of otherworld beyond the grave. The machine is a conduit for infection. It's a tense and gloomy film, full of grey and brown shades and images of twisted, tortured souls, their disfigurement ramping up the horror. The movie employs all of the usual tricks to induce fear, and doesn't make too bad a job of it, considering computers are not really the most menacing of objects.

The ending is a little unexpected, although perhaps it's too open-ended. Not all movies deserve a sequel, and this one is borderline at best. It works as a single film, but sometimes it's better to have one story that ends fully rather than always leaving the plot open in the desperate hope that a sequel could be made. Pulse is okay, it's suspenseful and interesting. But the imagery is too familiar and the concept too well-worn for more of the same to be in order.

Film Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Films

  Horror

Classification: 15

If you like this, try:

The Reaping cover    

The Reaping by Stephen Hopkins
A couple of scientists investigate strange phenomena in a small town in Louisiana.



1408 cover    

1408 by Mikael Håfström
An occult author checks in to room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel, expecting another paranormal hoax.



Mirrors cover    

Mirrors by Alexandre Aja
A disturbed ex-policeman takes a job as a night guard in a creepy, burnt-out department store.



3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson