Review: Pulse

Blu-ray & DVD: Pulse (2001)

A group of people in Tokyo experience a strange phenomena when co-workers and friends begin to mysteriously disappear and a message appears on computer screens asking “Do you want to meet a ghost“. After the suicides of several friends, 3 strangers explore a rapidly degenerating Tokyo and discover that the secret to the chaos may well be behind a taped off door at a construction site. Will entering the doorway be the answer they are looking for, or a passageway to an even darker future.

Made in 2001 when the internet was gaining a foothold into many households worldwide, Pulse portrays an early indication of how this digital connection between people can highlight their real world isolation and lack of meaningful engagement with the people around them…and this is also at a time before social media when the digital peer pressures would ramp up to yet another unheard of level.

Using its full 2 hour running time to establish and then convey a palpable sense of growing fear and uneasiness, Pulse may well be too slow paced for some viewers who, like today’s digital age has shaped, demand everything instantaneously. However, stick with it and the unsettling imagery and sound design will begin to cling to you, making your skin crawl and eliciting quick glances either side of you as you swear that you just saw movement in your peripheral vision. Pulse is a movie that begs to be watched at night…alone…with all the lights off.

Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa does a fantastic job of slowly building up the tension and drip feeding you images that get more and more disturbing as the story unfolds. The dark, blurred, slowly moving human figures begin to take on more menace as the frequency of their appearances increases, and when charred outlines appear on walls across the city, the goosebumps as you’re watching get ever bigger.

Pulse could be explained in a nutshell by paraphrasing the iconic line from Dawn of the Dead; “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth“, and changing it to “When there’s no more room in the spirit world, the ghosts will walk the earth“. Using the burgeoning digital technology that humankind is becoming ever more reliable on in both work and social life, these machines have become a gateway for spirits to return to where they once were.

Atmospheric and creepy as hell, Pulse is a movie that rewards your full attention…don’t be sat checking your phone/laptop/ipad while you’re watching, as not only will you miss out on the visual nuances throughout, you are also affirming the message that we are all now more engaged in the digital world rather than the physical world around us…plus you’re also giving a way for the spirits to come back!

Highly recommended as a nighttime chiller and of course accompanied by another set of great special features from Arrow Films.


  • High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original 2.0 audio
  • New optional English subtitle translation
  • Broken Circuits: a new video interview with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Creepy Images: a new video interview with cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi
  • The Horror of Isolation: a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett (Blair WitchYou’re Next)
  • Original ‘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

FIRST PRESSING ONLY:Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Chuck Stephens.

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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.