Sunday, August 27, 2006

[DVD] Pulse (Kairo) (2001)

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I've chanced upon this DVD at the Esplanade Library, and thought that it would be essential viewing before the Hollywood remake descends upon us in September. While the remake's trailer seemed scary enough with its freaky ghouls, I was apprehensive how spooked I will get when watching the original from writer director Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

And surprise, I found it to be palatable. and it confirms one thing though about the limited J-Horror movies that I've seen. There is minimal in-your-face shock-and-awe tactics. In Kairo, the mood and atmosphere is extremely measured with its superb controlled use of light and shadow. Expect things to go bump in the dark, but not too often though.

I believe what makes J-Horror movies a spookfest, is its ability to weave freaky stories from seemingly everyday events and objects. The Ring has its VCR tape and television set, while here, it's the Internet, a website which asks if you would like to meet a ghost, and a computer's ability to dial up on its own. From the start you're presented with a mysterious suicide, before the movie progresses with people in the city disappearing for no apparent reason, and vague happenings with shadows and black stains at spots where people die.

The ideas presented here, on loneliness and that human connection, seem interesting enough to ponder upon, as it questions if the use of technological tools like the computer brings people together, or further isolates us from one another. It also tried to ask a hypothetical what-if question, of what would happen if the other dimension which ghosts belong to, would be finitely occupied by the spirits, and their numbers start to spill over to our realm.

Most of the time, nothing really happens in the movie, which might seem a bore to those weaned on jump scares, quick cuts and actual ghouls and goblins making an appearance to scare the wits out of the leads. I liked the shot where the car roams around an empty streets of Japan, kinda reminds me of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, or even cheesy fests such as Resident Evil.

While I thought it was not scary, my friend warned me about the after effects, which I've yet to experience, not until the sun sets at least. And heck, I'm using the internet right now to write this too. Hope the screen doesn't go freaky on me...

Code 1 DVD comes with the theatrical trailer, which seems scary enough on its own, and a 41 minute long making-of documentary.

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