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Pulse 2 (2008)

Dimension Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/30/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/1/2008

When it comes to sequels, their attitude towards the viewer usually falls into one of three categories; 1) The movie can assume that you've just watched the previous film and jump right into the story with no further explanation; 2) The movie can assume that you have a vague recollection of the prior story and do a brief re-cap; or 3) Some movies do a combination of both -- they hit the ground running and then provide flashbacks as the story progresses. With Pulse 2, the sequel to the 2006 remake of a Japanese film, I have no idea in which category it falls. This movie doesn't seem to be aware of the fact that it's a sequel, which is probably just fine, because when I mentioned this review to friends, they would say, "They made a sequel to that?" Apparently ignorance and denial are walking hand-in-hand here.

Pulse opened with internet users finding an unusual website which displayed spectral images and then went on to tell the story of the ghosts emerging from machines into our world. (The idea was set forth that wherever it is that the dead go had gotten full, which is, a pretty creative idea.) OK, here's a synopsis of Pulse 2 which is a direct play-by-play of the movie. The film opens with Thomas (Todd Giebenhain) covering himself head-to-toe in red and hitting the streets. (If you've seen the first movie, then you know that the ghosts can't move through the color red. If you haven't, then you're already screwed, as Pulse 2 doesn't impart this information.) We see Thomas walking around dodging ghosts. Then, we are introduced to Michelle (Georgina Rylance), a woman who is looking for her daughter, Justine (Karley Scott Collins), who is missing. Michelle visits her Aunt (Lee Carlington), to see if she knows where Justine is. There, she learns that her Uncle Pete (Grant James) has locked himself and a cat inside of a room. Michelle then returns to her apartment and stares at a pair of scissors. We are then introduced to Michelle's ex-husband, Stephen (Jamie Bamber). He reads Michelle's journal and then he finds Justine. He and Justine go to a cabin and a woman gets naked. Then Stephen and Justine get into a truck and drive around. They meet Thomas, who forces them to go shopping for computer parts. Stephen and Justine drive around some more, some ghostly stuff happens, and then the movie ends.

And that's the movie. I feel certain that if I had watched Pulse 2 with David Lynch that he would have turned to me and said, "Pardon me, do you know what this movie is about?" The movie simply starts, presumably assuming that you've seen the first film and have a notion of what is happening. But, that notion is carried to the extreme and no one ever discusses what is happening. It could be argued that the characters don't know what's happening, and thus, they can't discuss it...but that sounds like laziness. I seem to remember that the ghosts originated in computers in Pulse, but here, cell phones are mentioned a few times. On the audio commentary, the filmmakers admit that they should have told the audience that the movie was taking place the day after the events in Pulse. And none of this ever explains why Thomas forces people to shop for him and then never returns. I'm sure that Writer/Director Joel Soisson would say that he was trying to create a dreamlike feel, but the only feeling that the viewer will have is frustration. (If you've seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you may remember a scene where Sarah, played by Kristen Bell, is teased about a horrible movie which she made where cell phones tried to kill people. It's no leap to assume that they were talking about Pulse, and they've seemed to have leapt to the sequel as well.)

As if the story...or lack thereof...wasn't bad enough, Pulse 2 suffers from some odd technical issues as well. Despite the fact that the film takes place in the real world -- in houses, on streets, etc. --, much of it was shot in front of green screens. We learn that this was done for budgetary reasons, which I have to believe...but seriously, a green screen effect is cheaper than using a real wall in a real building? These effects are so obvious and cheap looking that they are distracting. The movie never tries to had the fact that the actors are standing in front of still photographs. Is this a feature film from a studio headed by Academy Award-winning producers or something that someone made at a boardwalk attraction while on vacation. ("Look at me, I'm surfing...now I'm on the moon!") At first, I thought that the technique was being used to make us think that the characters were in a dream, but when it persisted, and even cabin walls were being faked, I began to realize the filmmakers were in for the long haul. This technique works in movies like Sin City or Speed Racer, where the idea is to create a heightened reality, but the only result here is a heightened pile of crap.

We could argue all day about whether or not a sequel to Pulse was necessary, but one thing's for sure, none of deserved this movie. The movie is a pointless exercise in pointlessness. I'm not surprised that Pulse 2 went directly to DVD, but it should have gone directly to Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Pulse 2 haunts DVD courtesy of Dimension Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is quite sharp and clear, showing only a trace amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The colors, especially Thomas' red outfit, are striking. The image shows no artifacting and is nicely detailed. The bright scenes are never overly bright. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fine, and the surround effects, especially during the scare scenes. These moments are carry an effective amount of subwoofer action.

The Pulse 2 DVD contains three extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Writer/Director Joel Soisson, Producer Michael Leahy, Co-producer Christian Agypt, Line Producer Ron Vecchiarelli, Editor Kirk Morri, Makeup Effects Supervisor Gary J. Tunnicliffe & Visual Effects Supervisor Kevin O'Neil. This is an interesting commentary, as the speakers acknowledge mistakes in the film, but also seem quite proud of the parts which will insult the viewers. The DVD contains two DELETED SCENES which run about four minutes. They really should have kept the first one in the movie, as it explains what is happening -- something that this movie sorely needed. The second gives us an idea of how the simplest scenes were shot with green screen. Finally, we have the 45-second "Sneak Peek at Pulse 3". Pulse 3? What did I do wrong?

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long