generations come, newer types of films cross through
our paths, and considering the amount of remakes
and sequels that have been released over the decade,
it’s important to consider those newer films
as more polished and original. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s
Pulse enters this category. It is a somber,
frightening feature, which deals with themes such
as isolation, and suicide, merged onto quite a
unique concept for a ghost story.
It appears that a lot of suicides
are being committed by the citizens of Tokyo,
as a mysterious website which promises its visitors
to see ghosts suddenly begins to pop up on the
net. As a separate group of people decides to
investigate, it is found out that the spirits
from the Underworld are in fact using the Internet
to invade our world.
What makes this movie scarier is
the message that Kurosawa brings up through the
scenes: Humans live and die on complete solitude.
This means that even after committing suicide,
a person will find itself trapped in the place
where it died, missing all sort of contact with
the outside world. Sadly, some of the sequences
that precede the climax seem to get a slower and
lengthier pacing than the rest of the film.
The photography also adds to the
eeriness. No strong color is used for any of the
scenes, and the brownish tint seen on many shots
keeps the apocalyptic sense at the screen for
most of the movie. Light appears to change through
the movie, though the scenes with the ghost differ
a lot from the conventional Japanese Horror.
Unlike other movies of this nature,
the ghosts are barely seen. And even though the
appearances go in the same vein of movies like
(1998) or Ju-on, the already-iconic long
haired woman is completely absent. Instead the
ghosts usually appear as shadows, or just in voices.
It certainly is quite an original technique for
the time being.
Music in this film is effective,
yet it doesn’t end up creating the same
atmosphere the other factors do. This is caused
due to the more dramatic tone towards the climatic
scenes, rather than the disturbing type music.
It does however become useful to express the characters’
behaviors and decisions, as well as their consequences.
But going on the human side of
the story, there is a lot of character development
here. This follows two parallel stories. One is
the life of Michi, a girl who works on a plant
sales shop in Tokyo, who keeps witnessing suicides
on most places she goes, as she tries to avoid
her best friend from doing so herself. The other
story follows Kawashima, a computer novice; very
afraid of Death; who keeps a relationship with
Harue, some woman who is rather obsessed with
the idea of Life after Death.
Acting is very fluent here. There
aren’t any exaggerations or overreactions
from cast, and each actor seems to fit in its
role well. Kumiko Aso does quite a convincing
job as Michi, so does Kurume Arisaka, the actress
that plays Michi’s friend Junko. She spends
most of the movie in silence, making clearer her
reluctance to live. Haruhiko Kato (Kawashima)
is certainly a talented youth, and blends himself
with the character realistically. Koyuki, better
known for her role as Taka in The Last Samurai
shows her performance skills as well.
The influence the film had on the
western culture is obscure, yet apparent when
seen at last. One good example is the 2002 horror
film Fear Dot Com. A grizzly, messy film
about a group of people who get killed after logging
on to a mysterious website. The only difference
with other J-Horror features is that the movie
ripped several plot elements to make a seemly
different film rather than remaking it.
But it wouldn’t take longer
until an actual remake was made. The 2006 American
Remake by Jim Sonzero is like most of the reinventions
from these stories (excluding the brilliant The
Grudge), disastrous. This goes from Kristen
Bell’s erratic performance to the pathetic
portrayal of the CGI ghosts, and surely more to
be seen. But it isn’t surprising to get
a good piece of work from the East being manifested
on a pile of garbage when being made on an appealing
tone for American viewers. This of course refers
to The Ring as well. This is caused mainly
because it’s hard to translate a concept
from such an analytic film onto a public more
accustomed to cheesy-type ghost stories.
Nonetheless, the original movie
is without any doubt a must-see, both for casual
viewers and for people who is looking for a good
scare. So, with a great original story, a packed
cast, and an atmosphere that’s sure to provoke
some good tension, the only thing I have to say
is "Good Work Kurosawa!"