Released by: Dimension Extreme Released on: 12/21/2008 Director: Joel Soisson Cast: Rider Strong, Brittany Finamore, Georgina Rylance, William Prael Year: 2008 Purchase From Amazon
Set roughly ten years after the ending of Pulse 2, the third film in the series begins when a young man named Adam (Rider Strong) watches his foxy Egyptian girlfriend jump to her death on the internet. It seems that the dead are still out doing their thing and that they’re still using computers to do it. From there we catch up with Justine (Brittany Renee Finamore), who has been living the last years of her life in a technology free refugee camp along with the rest of her group. Now seventeen years old, Justine wants to get out and see the world that she’s been forced to leave behind. When she finds a mysterious abandoned laptop she realizes she may have just found her ticket…
If you haven’t seen the first two films in the series the continuity that is expanded upon in this third chapter will go right over your head and make the film a little tough to decipher. That said, if you’re clued in to what’s happening the film is easy enough to follow. While it’s admirable that the filmmakers decided to expand upon Justine’s story, the results, sadly, are not particularly engrossing. In fact, from the poorly executed opening scene (technology buffs will gasp in disbelief at how much is wrong with this scene) to the fairly predictable finale, Pulse 3 really doesn’t have a whole lot going for it.
The cast and crew are all completely middle of the road, turning performances that are good enough but in no way remarkable or in the least bit memorable. The effects are okay, but they’ve all been rendered in CGI and as such, are devoid of any real character or impact, they look like something out of a video game. This could all be overlooked if the story hooked you, but again, there just simply isn’t enough of interest here for the picture to really pull you in – you’re simply left not caring.
To writer/director Joel Soisson’s credit, there are some interesting ideas here and the picture moves along at a good pace. The cinematography is competent enough and the sound design is decent. There could have been a good movie in here had the story been more interesting, but for whatever reason that just didn’t happen and this feels like a phoned in effort from all involved. The first Pulse, a remake of the Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 2001 film Kairo, was entertaining enough, but the two sequels just aren’t so hot…
Pulse 3’s 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is okay. There aren’t any obvious encoding problems, mpeg compression artifacts or edge enhancement to complain about though the image is frequently soft and a little fuzzy at times. There’s a bit of jitter to the picture though color reproduction is fine as are black levels. The transfer won’t blow you away, but it looks decent enough for a low budget straight to video horror film.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, which comes with English SDH and Spanish subtitles, is nice enough. It’s not reference quality but it certainly sounds good here, with some nice surround usage during the jump scares scenes and properly balanced levels throughout the movie.
The main extra feature on this release is a commentary track with writer/director Joel Soisson, producer Mike Leahy, editor Kirk Morri and actress Brittany Finamore. Surprisingly enough, this commentary is actually quite good. The participants are fairly realistic in their criticisms of their own work and they’ve able to discuss the flaws in the film as well as discuss what it was like working on the picture. It’s interesting to hear these folks dissect their work and explain how and why things turned out they way they did.
Dimension have also included a Pulse 3: Behind The Scenes featurette which, at just over eight minutes in length, doesn’t go to in-depth. It does offer some reasonably interesting behind the scenes footage and if you found yourself wowed with the movie, it might be worth checking out. Rounding out the extras are a slew of trailers for other Dimension DVD releases, some nifty animated menus, and chapter selection.
The Final Word:
Pulse 3 isn’t particularly good at all, really, despite a couple of interesting moments scattered throughout the film. Dimension’s DVD looks okay and sounds good enough and includes a surprisingly interesting commentary that will appeal more to the film criticism crowd than to your average horror buff.
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This is a superb film, one of my favorites, based on Thomas Tryon's debut novel. Nice review, Ian.