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Pulse: Unrated (DVD)

Pulse: Unrated DVD (click for larger image)Starring Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder, Christina Milian, Rick Gonzalez, Jonathan Tucker

Directed by Jim Sonzero

Distributed by Genius Products


We’ve all been there. While enroute to any destination we encounter them. Although the rest of the world is moving at a steady fifty-five miles per hour, they magically appear in front of us crawling along at thirty. Helplessly we slam our fists against the steering wheel while hoping that there is a good reason for this friggin’ idiot to be driving at the pace in which old people fuck. “That’s it! you think to yourself as you pull out from behind them with the intention of passing. Your heart’s racing. Your adrenaline is kicking in! This prick had better:

A- Be totally lost (which is really no excuse since they could just pull over and get directions, but hey, at least it’s something)

or

B- Be having a heart attack while at the wheel

Finally you can see into their driver’s side window, and the cause of your aggravation becomes apparent. The uber-schmuck in front of you was busy chatting away on his cell phone instead of paying attention to the road. Such is the world we live in. Everyone’s connected to something which someone else is connected to somewhere else almost all of the time. Technology is making privacy damned near obsolete. We can either go with it or pray for Mother Nature to put us in our places via a disaster of epic proportions. Pulse offers us a third possible scenario. One that seems almost plausible given the way that things are headed.

Pulse: Unrated DVD (click for larger image)A computer hacker unwittingly opens a door into the world of the dead, and as a result phantoms are passing through to our side. How are they getting here? Through anything that can act as a receiver. Cell phones, stereos, televisions, PDA’s, and of course PC’s. The only place anyone is safe is in an area in which there are no signals. (Having just traveled back from Hinesville, Georgia, I can tell you that should this ever happen, that is the place to go).

That’s the story in a nutshell. At its heart Pulse is a good old fashioned invasion movie. Instead of hordes of flesh-eating zombies or anal-probing aliens, we get a plethora of mostly bald(?!) ghosts who feast upon our “will to live”. Does it work? Truth be told, the original Japanese version of this film, Kairo, accomplishes the job a bit more competently, but this American remake has its moments.

Originally released in theatres as a PG-13 film, Pulse was kind of flaccid. This unrated version actually plays a lot better, not great or good mind you, just better. In it we get a few longer looks at a couple of the deaths including the suicide jump that was in the trailer but not included in the film’s PG-13 incarnation. Sometimes the small screen can inexplicably make a movie seem a bit stronger. I have no answer for how or why this happens; it just does. This is one of life’s great mysteries along with Sasquatch, Nessie, and Don King’s Afro. Still, there are moments in which nothing can help. No setting or amount of tinkering can save us from Kel O’Neill’s horrid performance as one of the hackers, Zieglar. It defies description. There are a few other pitfalls here and there (like the tacked-on feel of the ending), but overall director Jim Sonzero gets the job done.

Pulse: Unrated DVD (click for larger image)The DVD delivers too. For starters, there are two commentaries that fluctuate between great and ho-hum. The better of the two features Sonzero along with F/X guru Gary Tunnicliffe, with Tunnicliffe stealing the show as per usual. Any track this guy is on is always a great listen. From there we get two standard making-of featurettes along with some deleted and alternate scenes that were thankfully excised from the film.

The star of this package is without question the third featurette entitled Pulse and the Paranormal. In it we’re introduced to the phenomenon of ITC or Instrumental TransCommunication. What the hell is that you ask? Think a video version of EVP. It seems as if the dead are already finding new ways to break through. Spooky shit.

Clocking in at a run time of just about half an hour, the three featurettes manage to pack a bit of punch. I have to wonder though … shouldn’t there have been at the very least some mention of Pulse‘s Japanese counterpart? Other than in the commentaries it’s barely acknowledged. Come on guys, a little bit of homage can go a long way, especially for fans just discovering the world of Pulse. While the film is for the most part true to the spirit of the original, an extra nod would have been nice (not to mention just).

Honestly, I hope the dead do find a way in. At least in the case of those inconsiderate idiots that we always get stuck behind while driving. Please, Mr. Phantom, break on through. Drive your spirity goodness like a spike from the cell phone speaker straight through the empty chasm of their skull. Of course in my case, shortly after doing so, said idiot would then crash his car immediately into mine.

Sigh. I never win.

Special Features
Two commentary tracks with the filmmakers
Deleted and additional scenes
Creating the Fear: Making Pulse featurette
The Visual Effects of Pulse featurette
Pulse and the Paranormal featurette
Theatrical trailer

Film

3 out of 5

Special Features

3 out of 5

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Box of Dread May 2015

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.