I hate remakes, KAIRO (Pulse) was a Japanese horror film that is quite iconic despite its slow-moving screenplay but it managed to generate a calculated, darkly sinister meditation on life and death with a disturbing denunciation with technology as a destroyer of living humanity. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s defining horror epic revolves around the approach to mortality as seemingly random build ups of related and unrelated events; brought about by a website that brings contact to the supernatural world. 2006’s U.S. remake “Pulse” misunderstood Kurosawa’s main premise and thereby resulted in a film full of creative misunderstanding. In Kairo the science was only secondary, it was more about mortality. “Pulse” shouldn’t have been an unlimited “night and weekend” visual feast of cell phones and computers. This happens a lot of times when American filmmakers attempt to remake an Asian horror film.
Sure, PULSE 2: Afterlife (2008) isn’t a remake of an Asian horror feature. It only expands on the idea of the U.S. remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s KAIRO. Directed and written by Joel Soisson (Mimic 2), the sequel isn’t really a major visual spookfest, it does attempt to pull something perceivably new out of the bag; the problem is, it suffers from plot inconsistencies and horror movie clichés.
The world had been reshaped due to the emergence of ghost via the internet. Cities have been deserted, and the few survivors have relocated in small camps, in areas believed to be ‘dead zones’. Survivors leave behind electrical devices in their relocated areas. Ghosts now wander the Earth in the form of electrical impulses; they continue to haunt their homes and some are unaware that they are dead. Stephen (Jamie Bamber) must now find a way to save his daughter Jusitne from her dead mother Michelle.
All right, at first I thought I was about to watch a George Romero feature with ghosts in place rather than zombies. Truth be told, such a film would have been more interesting. I’m not really sure why they felt that a sequel would be necessary (then again, I don’t know why they keep on remaking Asian Horror films). The film picks up from the supposed remnants of the first movie. People do know that something had gone terribly wrong and they try to survive.
Director Joel Soisson does try to make some sense on the myth that is “Kairo”. I have to credit the man for trying to explore the myths of the spirit world. This time, he focuses on a father and child being haunted by a dead mother. The film does somewhat feel like a “custody battle” being fought between the material and the spirit world. While he tries, he falls to the same clichés in horror films, I can’t really blame him, he had so little to work with and as I’ve said, even the first film greatly misunderstood Kurosawa’s iconic horror film.
The film is actually a chase film of a sort. Stephen isn’t really the perfect dad, he had an affair that somewhat justifies his ex-wife’s anger. Michelle the dead mother is a little underdeveloped and I found it quite difficult to connect with her. Also, the timetable lacks credibility, or at least not really fully explored. The film does try to throw some ideas in an attempt to add some depth to its simple plot. A guy going around looking like a “Red Riding Hood” reject is presented but that subplot goes nowhere. (Maybe there’s a Pulse 3?) The small town where Stephen and his daughter fled from is also severely underdeveloped. What happened after they left? Enter the nudity.
To its credit, the film does have a few spooky images. The idea of the dead not knowing they’re dead is an idea with potential. While its visuals aren’t really original and looks like a rip-offs from “The Ring” or from a Pang Bros. horror film, the film does manage to generate some scares, however cheap they may be. The scenes of suicide presented potential, but then again, that idea can only go so far. The problem with Pulse 2 is that it suffered from inconsistencies in plot. I thought ghosts can only find you when you have a cell phone or a computer, as reinforced by its first half then we Michelle able to follow Justine (Karla Scott Collins). By the brain’s electrical activity perhaps? Maybe, but this possibility has no credible explanation. The film just goes into one dead end after another. The film’s climax doesn’t offer much either, except for the horror that is a possibility for “Pulse 3”.
PULSE 2: AFTERLIFE isn’t the worst horror film you’ll find out there but you can definitely find something more worthwhile very easily. The issues with the film is that it tried too hard to capitalize on the first film’s backdrop that it felt a little rushed and perfunctory. The script felt as if it had been rewritten numerous times. It failed to present a single memorable scene and the film just feels forgettable. It felt too textbook for my tastes and followed the same old flaws in a sequel. American filmmakers missed the point of Kurosawa’s KAIRO, thinking that it was just another J-horror flick about a journey into the spirit world. I am not arrogant to say that all of them missed the idea but they definitely messed up its reinterpretation. This sequel just further reinforces that viewpoint.
RENTAL [1 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Gallactica) stars in this terrifying sequel that picks up where the original Pulse left off. The dead have found a way back to our world - through cell phones and WiFi - and the human survivors have taken to remote areas to escape. When a young girl goes missing, her father must return to the city to battle her mother's vengeful ghost, along with a host of other horrifying ghouls. Intense, suspenseful, and terrifying, Pulse 2 will frighten you straight through to its shocking ending.