Mattie (Kristen Bell) is currently studying psychology. Mattie is entirely focused on her goals and is quite popular, often catching up with a group of friends. She is also going through a break-up as her partner, Josh (Jonathan Tucker), now only wants to communicate with her via text messaging and is avoiding her in person. Mattie seems unsure why the sudden change in Josh’s behaviour has occurred and one day decides to visit him in person.
When Mattie visits Josh at home, he looks unwell and exhausted, with strange markings on the back of his neck. After the two catch up, Josh kills himself, which only shocks and upsets Mattie further. Now, Mattie begins to question what occurred in Josh’s life that made him change dramatically and kept him distant from others. She learns that Josh was, in fact, a skilled computer hacker. One evening, he hacked a computer that carried something far more sinister than anyone could have imagined. Now the city is experiencing a high volume of suicides, and Mattie and all her close friends are at risk as the ultimate evil has been unlocked, growing more substantial thanks to the increased use of technology worldwide.
For those unaware, Pulse is a remake of the famous film with the same premise (Kairo), which was initially released in 2001. Pulse is best described as a horror and thriller film with a slight touch of sci-fi thrown into the mix. The world is firmly in a digital age, with computers and mobile phones becoming increasingly popular, fashionable and influential.
The idea that ghosts could live in a digital world is undoubtedly fun and pleasing. There are a few moments of solid visuals and fun creativity, especially in the climax and finale. Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed was the fun and pleasing audio track, which included finer details such as ghosts roaming around and other elements that I found slightly creepy and haunting.
However, despite a few praises, Pulse has many issues and struggles. Firstly, the dialogue is almost comparable to a soap drama. Long pauses and over-dramatic teenage dialogue made my eyes roll at various points. Most characters on-screen are emotionless and vague, even when they have just witnessed something horrific and tragic. The plot, while clever, lacks finer details. One example is when Mattie begins to suffer a series of flashbacks and visions during her sleep which remains unexplained throughout. On-screen deaths are predictable and obvious, and the feature lacks the excitement of edge-of-the-seat scary horror. Visuals are questionable, as there seems to be some form of blue tint over the entire feature, making it both dark and utterly dull.
Overall, carrying an exciting new premise and a stunning soundtrack, Pulse certainly had the potential to be strong as a horror film, but sadly it slips and falls. Performances here are comparable to a TV soap drama, and most characters here lack any form of emotion. On-screen deaths are predictable and, again, lack excitement. The image quality is questionable as the entire feature has some kind of blue tint for the entire duration, making it a little ugly to even look at for an extended period. In the end, little enjoyment can be had here, but given the cast and concept, I wanted to see more from this film.