Saturday 1 March 2008

Pulse (2001)

Something weird is going on with Taguchi. He isn't answering the phone and he has a deliverable so Michi heads over to see him and pick up the disk he owes them. She's shocked to find his corpse, which has apparently been that way for a while, presumably through suicide, but she's even more shocked because he appeared very alive when they had a conversation together a couple of minutes before in the very same apartment.

Something weird is also happening on the internet. A student called Ryosuke Kawashima signs up for the first time through an ISP and finds his machine hijacked. It shows him a series of images, invites him to see a ghost and after he's switched it off, dials back in again without his help. He brings in help from a girl at the computer lab at the university, who seems very eager because of an existing interest in ghosts and a computer program written by a grad student. She sees the two as somehow tied together.

These two stories are not initially connected but they gradually come together. Ghosts appear, move freakily as they always do in Japanese films, disappear. People just disappear, in growing numbers, or commit suicide, always leaving behind a sort of Hiroshima shadow. The web pages seem to proliferate too, each with different people. There's also a room at the plant company Michi works at that people call the Forbidden Room, which is sealed off with red tape around the edges of the windows and doors.

The word that describes this one best is 'freaky' and that's hardly a bad word for a movie to be associated with. It deals with themes like isolation and loneliness but has a fascinating way of depicting them. However it's easy to get lost in the plot strands and there's some insanely dubious logic. Here are a few peaches: everyone dies therefore ghosts exist, ghosts can't die so wherever ghosts are must run out of room sometime, or everything after death is eternal emptiness and so that must be life too.

I'm not sure how that logc could really make sense to anyone, and if that's the basis of the story no wonder it all gets confusing. I think I need to rewatch sometime to focus in a litle deeper on the message because it's obviously there, it's not just obvious. It is refreshing though. I thought initially it was going to be another eastern horror movie based around technophobia (beware the website, beware the mobile phone, beware the whatever), but it's something very different. I'm just not sure what it is. Technology breeds isolation? I dunno.

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