Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
Pulse (Kairo) (2001)
15Contains sustained psychological horror and suicides

"Something strange is going on," murmurs a young woman towards the beginning of the Tokyo-set Pulse in an observation of glaring understatement. Writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa attempts to weave together two storylines: a florist Mimi (Kumiko Aso) witnesses a colleague's suicide, and a student Ryosuke (Haruhiko Katô) stumbles onto a software programme haunted by phantoms. Despite the dread-laden atmosphere however, this supernatural tale is poorly served by a shapeless and repetitive screenplay.

Whereas in Hideo Nakata's The Ring it was a videotape which unleashed evil forces, in Pulse it's the internet which allows dark spirits to re-enter the world of the living. Separately both Mimi and Ryosuke witness sinister images on computer screens, such as a man sitting on a chair with a plastic bag over his head and the word help scrawled over the walls. Suicides multiply, Tokyo seems drained of activity, and ghostly figures begin to appear in everyday environments - libraries, supermarkets, amusement arcades - leaving sooty traces in their wake.


Favouring long takes, medium shots and shadowy lighting, Kurosawa uses the ghost story genre to explore the emotionally disconnected nature of modern urban life: the fear of one of the most technologically adept characters Karue (Koyuki) is that death will bring eternal loneliness. Yet whilst there are a handful of arresting moments, including a digitally created plane crash and a ride on an eerily deserted train, Pulse mostly proceeds at a funereal pace and the pallid characters fail to engage one's emotions.

End Credits

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Stars: Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo, Shinji Takeda

Genre: Horror

Length: 119 minutes

Original: 03 February 2001

Cinema: 03 February 2006

Country: Japan

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