A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
College students function without effective adult guidance, feel alienated by their reliance on electronic communication devices.
Violence & Scariness
"Ghosts" emerge from machines and appear to ravage/suck life out of human victims repeatedly; nearly dead cat in closet; a young man hangs himself (close-ups of face and shoes only); car crash; fiery airplane crash; a fall off a rooftop; lost inside "the system," Mattie feels like hundreds of hands are grabbing at her; a couple of guns pointed (one by ghost at self, one by man on street at Dexter); ghost attacks Mattie and Dexter in truck, leaving their faces bloodied.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Girls wear revealing clothes; discussion of porn sites at beginning mentions "tranny grannies" and Japanese girls in bondage; one girl appears in bed with a guy after she's slept with him (she puts on her jeans and leaves the room); flashbacks to young couple in bed kissing (his hand on her bare back, otherwise no skin); girl takes bath (only face and shoulders visible).
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One f-word; five uses of "s--t," other mild language (including "bitch" and "hell").
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink (beers mostly), several smoke cigarettes, including protagonist Dexter; verbal reference to "booze" in coffee.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the movie is relentlessly dark, with a buzzing, spooky soundtrack: The grim music and noise hardly let up. It includes several deaths by grisly means: a college student hangs himself, while others are consumed by the machine-derived "ghost." All these deaths include screaming and shuddering, and are generally spooky and abstract. A couple of minor characters wield (but don't shoot) guns, demonstrating their desperation. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink; one of the girls sleeps with a guy she's just met at a bar. Some profanity, including one f-word, uttered in despair. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Very dark and moody, PULSE imagines a dire near future for electronic communications. As college students become immersed in their devices -- cell phones, computers, PDAs -- they lose touch with each other, and so, literally, lose themselves. The problem of communication is at the center of Jim Sonzero's remake of the 2001 Japanese movie Kairo, and while this bad-machines theme is familiar, the execution is effectively ooky, with a persistent blueish light and buzzy soundtrack. The ghosts, it turns out, "want what they don't have, they want life." The film frames its horror as if the ghosts are so many Pinocchios, yearning for what seems inherently valuable to humans. Communication has turned consumptive.
While adults are ineffective (Mattie's smug therapist [Ron Rifkin] dismisses her concerns out of hand), a computer geek helps Mattie to find the webcam loop that affected Josh. It helps that Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) is very good looking, of course, but he's also clever and determined. He finds images of other dead souls, gazing forlornly from the computer screen, emblems of the future of non-communication.
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Our Editors Recommend
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