review for Pulse on AllMovie

Pulse (2001)
by Jonathan Crow review

Kiyoshi Kurosawa grabbed worldwide attention with his 1997 masterpiece Cure, a horror film that was actually horrifying. Sandblasting away all the campy clichés of 1970s quickies, Cure employed intelligent camera work, lighting, sound design, and a good story -- and very little special effects -- to prove that horror flicks can also be art. Kurosawa shows that he has lost none of his abilities to scare in this film. The first 30 minutes of Kairo is perhaps some of the most unnerving, frightening sequences to come down the pike in a long time. And Kurosawa accomplishes this with admirable economy, using little dramatizing music or flash camera trickery. Computers, cell phones, and other forms of technology play a central role in this film. Unlike in some tech horror flicks, technology in this film is not an evil in itself. Rather the horror of Kairo comes from how this technology separates and divides humanity from itself. Photographed in browns and icy whites, Tokyo is portrayed as a city of lost and lonely souls bracing itself for impending doom. As the film progresses, it shifts gears from a straight-up horror flick into something weirder and more existential -- as if Andrei Tarkovsky directed The Omega Man. Some might be put off by the change, while others will be dazzled by such an audacious move. Overall, Kairo is an astonishing work that cements Kiyoshi Kurosawa has one of the masters of the media.