Hollywood@Home: Pulse (2001)

We scrubbed and scrubbed but couldn’t get the stain out. Yes, we even used Bon Ami.

Grab the duct tape and break out the Bon Ami. A Blu-ray “special edition” of “Pulse” is available this summer from Arrow Video. The 2001 Japanese horror flick is getting a nice two-disc release with a high-def digital transfer, 5.1 audio and an impressive amount of special features. Fans of the cult classic will be impressed. Me, not so much.

I’ve sat through this painfully long and depressing ghost story at least three times over the years, and each time I come away feeling exactly the same. There are a few chilling moments, but nothing to rate the praise some folks have tossed the film since its début at the Cannes Film Festival sixteen years ago.

If you are new to the story, suffice it to say that “Pulse” is about ghosts using the Internet to invade the world of the living. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s story was considered prescient in the way that it illustrates how the Internet works against people by isolating them and preventing them from having face-to-face conversations and relationships.

There are many problems with the film I jokingly call “The Human Stain.” The characters in the parallel story lines seem depressed from the get-go, so where’s the contrast? The characters go from depressed to more depressed to evolving into a big black stain on the wall. That’s where the Bon Ami comes in handy.

Same problem with the sets and locations. From the very first scene, they are dull, drab and depressing. If I lived and worked under these horrible conditions, I’d probably want to disappear, too. Kurosawa fails to show what life before the Internet was like. Compare and contrast. It makes for a better story.

One other issue is the film’s length. It took too long to join the parallel stories. The characters needed more definition and the plot should have been shortened and clarified. The apocalyptic scenes near the film’s end were less than convincing. There had to be a better way, even for a low-budget film, to convey the end of the world.

“Pulse” is the kind of horror movie that genre fans should see at least once. Allow yourself plenty of time and patience. You’ll need it. Grade: C

Listen, don’t mind me. I’m just going to hang back here by the wall. “Pulse” is new on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.