Pulse [1988]

Pulse provides clear evidence that by the summer of 2006, the cycle of American remakes of Japanese horror films had reached its inevitable downturn. After peaking with the Ring and scoring a marginal success with The Grudge, the cycle was almost guaranteed to sink to the low-point of this unnecessary and mostly lackluster remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 shocker. It benefits from a standard upgrade in CGI effects and doom-laden "bleak-chic" atmosphere, but it's almost completely devoid of suspense as a group of college students led by Mattie (played by Kristin Bell, TV's Veronica Mars) investigate the suicide of Mattie's boyfriend and discover a kind of wi-fi conduit that allows malevolent spirits to be transmitted from their afterlife to our world via the Internet - think of it as kind of a broadband connection from hell, if you will. Pretty soon it's obvious that Pulse is trying (as Kurosawa's original film before it) to serve as cautionary tale about how we've allowed our lives to become numbed and devalued by using technologies (computers, cell-phones, PDAs, etc.) that keep us all connected at the expense of personal intimacy. Many of the creepiest images from the original Pulse are carried over here, and director Jim Sonzero does his best to keep the cautionary themes intact, but at some point (and after a great deal of pre-release tinkering to fit the obligatory PG-13 rating for the lucrative teen market) you have to ask yourself: why bother? --Jeff Shannon

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