The J-horror remake wheel spins again, spitting out this pathetic Americanization of Kiyoshi Kurosawas apocalyptic fable about a literal ghost in the machine. In Kurosawas version (released briefly in the U.S. last fall and recently issued on DVD), a mysterious website functioned as a portal by which the dead could re-enter the world of the living, with unsavory consequences for all who logged on. In director Jim Sonzeros update (from a script co-written by Wes Craven), more or less the same thing happens -- only instead of a band of smart, resourceful computer geeks, the victims are an assortment of vacant boy- and girl-toys (including Veronica Mars Kristen Bell and actor-model Ian Somerhalder) who spend most of the film lounging about in skimpy attire. Kurosawas Pulse was as terrifying for its sense of loneliness and communications breakdown in the technology age as for any ectoplasmic apparitions. Here, the computer-generated effects are plentiful, but the scare factor rarely rises above the level of a viral e-mail, and the desaturated color scheme makes every frame look as though it was developed in a solution of vomit and ash. The spirits in Pulse dont kill you outright; they drain you of your life-giving energy first. So does the movie.
Jim SonzeroKristen Bell, Christina Milian, Ian Somerhalder, Rick Gonzalez, Samm LevineVince Gilligan, Wes Craven, Stephen Susco, Ray WrightMike Leahy, Joel SoissonThe Weinstein Company