Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring: Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka, Kumiko Aso, Haruhiko Kato
Running Time: 115 minutes
BBFC Certificate: 15
Award-winning filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa serves up this foisty J-Horror feast with gritty realism, right from the outset it is clear this film is not for fun. Set in a computer dominated world Pulse explores the horrors of isolation as we become more removed from human interaction and enter a terrifying cyber domain. The residents of Tokyo notice people are going missing, technology is breaking down and shadowy computer programs seem to be taking on a life of their own.
The story unfolds through two interweaving plot lines; Kudo Michi (Kumiko Aso) has moved to Tokyo when her colleague Taguchi goes missing while working on a computer disk. Kudo goes to visit Taguchi, but he hangs himself while she is visiting…how rude. When Kudo checks the disk he has been working on, she sees a spectra looking back. Meanwhile Yabe has a strange phone call, the caller repeating “Help me”; he goes to Taguchi’s apartment and sees a spectral black stain on the wall where Taguchi hung himself. Tension builds as a woman leaps to her death from a factory silo and the grim tale coasts with menace into Armageddon, accompanied by a discordant string sound track.
Intertwined is the tale of student Ryosuke (Haruhiko Katô) who has made the dreadful mistake of signing up to a new internet provider. Ryosuke’s computer accesses an unnerving dimension, of un-settling otherworldly images cloaked in darkness. Ryosuke turns the computer off, only for it to turn itself back on showing a man with a black bag over his head. Soon the computer will not follow any instructions and the video of black bag man returns to the screen, this time with the words “Help Me” written on the wall behind him. The streets are filled with ghoulish apparitions, possibly the spirits are taking over the natural domain as the end of the world approaches.
The dead are oozing into our world to the back drop of grating chiming strings enveloped in a muted concrete grey landscape. Friends commit suicide and the city seems eerily devoid of life, the only thing more terrifying is the thought that we will be alone after death. Junichiro Hayashi’s (Ring, Dark Water) creepy cinematography adds a depressing atmosphere of claustrophobia which frighteningly predicts the direction in which technology is taking us. This is a J-Horror triumph of digital disaster with a gloomy subdued air of misery pervading the all-consuming gloom. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is much adored when it comes to J-horror with unsettling atmosphere, so this is one to plug into if you like the creeps and want to know what’s behind the red tape door.
To cheer you up a little, along with the film you also a get a pile of extras: the special edition contents include a high definition digital transfer with high definition Blu-ray (1080p). The standard definition DVD presentation with original 5.1 audio (DTS-HD on the Blu-ray) and new optional English subtitle translation. New interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, new interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi, The Horror of Isolation: a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (Blair Witch, You’re Next). Archive Making of documentary, plus four archive behind-the-scenes featurette. Premiere footage from Cannes Film Festival, cast and crew introductions from opening day screenings in Tokyo, trailers and TV spots. This release sports a superb reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket. Included with the first pressing is an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Chuck Stephens.
Pulse is released on Dual format in the UK on 10th July 2017 by Arrow Video on two disks in Japanese language with English subtitles. Included is a formidable gathering of extras with new interviews, artwork, trailers and TV Spots. Not forgetting the illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Chuck Stephens with the first pressing.