Blu-ray Review – Pulse – Arrow Video


Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Screenplay: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Minutes: 118

Year: 2001

Score: 5.60

Release: Arrow Video

I have watched several Hollywood remakes of Asian horror but I had never seen their originals. My very short opinion is that this flick is very creepy. Cheers to Arrow Video for making Pulse available in the states.


Award-winning filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa delivered one of the finest entries in the “J-Horror” cycle of films with this moody and spiritually terrifying film that delivers existential dread along with its frights. Setting his story in the burgeoning internet and social media scene in Japan, Kurosawa’s dark and apocalyptic film foretells how technology will only serve to isolate us as it grows more important to our lives.

A group of young people in Tokyo begin to experience strange phenomena involving missing co-workers and friends, technological breakdown, and a mysterious website which asks the compelling question, “Do you want to meet a ghost?” After the unexpected suicides of several friends, three strangers set out to explore a city which is growing more empty by the day, and to solve the mystery of what lies within a forbidden room in an abandoned construction site, mysteriously sealed shut with red packing tape.

Featuring haunting cinematography by Junichiro Hayashi (Ring, Dark Water), a dark and unsettling tone which lingers long after the movie is over, and an ahead-of-its-time story which anticipates 21st century disconnection and social media malaise, Pulse is one of the greatest and most terrifying achievements in modern Japanese horror, and a dark mirror for our contemporary digital world.

I have a decent surround sound system in my living room and for the very first time the sound design made me forget that I was home, alone. I jump and looked around, considered, then remembered that I had surround sound. This was a new experience for me; I loved it.

The film itself, while creepy and scary was alright, clever at points, but alright. However, there is still value to be had here. Watch the originals. I have not seen the US remake of this film but my understanding is that it is not good.  It has a metacritic score of 27, versus the original’s 70. I know there are some re-makes which surpass their sources but it is rare, especially when it crosses international borders.

I will recommend the originals nine out of ten times. Naturally this is a problem here since I am not overly fond of this film, but PULSE does have its moments, and is a great way to test your surround sound for more than explosions.

Special Features

  • High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original 5.1 audio (DTS-HD on the Blu-ray)
  • New optional English subtitle translation
  • New interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • New interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi
  • The Horror of Isolation: a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett (Blair Witch, You’re Next)
  • Archive ‘Making of’ documentary, plus four archive behind-the-scenes featurettes
  • Premiere footage from the Cannes Film Festival
  • Cast and crew introductions from opening day screenings in Tokyo
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket

Director: 7 – Cinematography: 6 –  Edit: 7 – Parity: 2 – Main performance: 6 – Else performance: 4 – Score: 6 – Sound: 10 – Story: 6 – Script: 4 – Effects: 6 – Design: 5 – Costumes: 4 – Keeps interest: 6 – Lasting: 5