Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
Unjustly eclipsed by the glut of J-horror imitations spawned in the wake of Ring’s success, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse is ostensibly the last word in the now-familiar genre of modern technology ensnaring youth in its diabolical viral grip. But the film takes the cautionary, machines-as-a-subsitute-for-human-connection idea one existential step further by viewing it through the prism of a fearsome notion rarely addressed in the genre: the crushing, all-consuming void of eternal loneliness. From the premise of a creepy website causing a spate of unexplained suicides and disappearances all over Japan, Pulse, under the direction of Kurosawa’s lingering deadpan lens and absorbing, slow-burn pacing, develops into a hair-raisingly eerie ghost thriller. Dare we say it boasts the single most terrifying apparition in the history of cinema? It is also a startlingly original vision of impending apocalypse, with an emotional punch that’s doubled when you consider the year it was made, and the exact nature of its fiery climactic imagery.