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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If this movie weren't trying so hard, it would be scarier. Like many
horror films, it sets to work on us right from the beginning, before
anything is happening to be scared about: immediately the Psycho music
kicks in and the camera moves jarringly. These devices have the effect
on me of recognizing them to be independent of what the screen's
showing. At the same time, the movie develops in the standard
deliberate monotone of Japanese thrillers, but whereas in some of them,
e.g. Ring, the audience is actually being fed information at a steady
rate, here it has to wait a long time to find out what's going on, and
this does not particularly arouse curiosity. It is quite interesting,
however, once it's revealed--more interesting than the story that's
built around it. Although the theme--the erosion of the line between
the living and the ghostly--is accurately illustrated by the central
image--ghostlike figures on monitors--somehow the phenomenon seems not
quite to jibe with the explanation of it. And the last stage of the
invasion, if it can be called that, happens very suddenly, and I don't
understand how it came to happen. (This section of the movie looks a
lot like anime.)
This director's films all tend to remind me of other movies. Cure is like Angel Dust, and this one is like Ring, with computers. To me they never seem to get far beyond the resemblances; never seem quite to get where they're going.
This movie was a major disappointment for me. I am a huge fan of horror
movies, and Asian horror movies in particular. So I so this DVD cover
and picked it up. The DVD cover does look promising, a fairly weird
face covered in black with a toothless open mouth. So it was with a
heart full of anticipation I put this movie on.
And wow, the movie just kept on going forever and ever. Perhaps it seemed longer because I lost interest in it fairly early along the way.
There were no scare factors or scary moments in the movie, though there were a bit suspense, but hardly enough to be called horror. And that is where I fell off the wagon and lost interest.
The story deals with people disappearing and is caught somewhere between life and death, and is capable of communicating with people through the computers and internet. Yeah, it is a good enough base for a story, but it just didn't work out all that well.
As for the cast, well there were no one that I immediately recognized in the movie. And I must say that the lead guy and girl were doing a rather bad job, especially the guy. It seemed like he would rather be somewhere else doing something else.
"Kairo" is very different from the 'standard' Japanese horror movies that make it to the market. It might be good with some deviation, but this movie just failed to leave a lasting impression. There are many other far better Japanese horror movies available, and you might be better off with one of those...
This Japanese horror (which had a quite a belated release for western audiences) seemed to have impressed many viewers, but for me it wasn't entirely the case. 'Kario' is a dreary supernatural industrial techo thriller that never seemed to get going and establish enough meat upon its themes of technology advancement leading to loneliness and being frightened of the unknown. It's got a complex and fascinating base to work off, but it comes off being incoherent and overlong as the idea seems too big with its unfocused intentions. While the cluttered narrative plods along (at least it's unpredictable), it's director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's gloomy and at times chilling imagery that commands your attention. A couple moments can cause goosebumps, but genuinely can't sustain that edginess throughout even with the looming dread amongst the working class urban setting. The environment paints a shady and cold look like something of apocalyptic proportions. Visually speaking it had everything going for it and Junichiro Hayashi's sprawling cinematography sumptuously lenses every frame. Some flashes of arty pretensions seep in. The eerily sicking and subtly shuddery music score pushes all the right buttons. Hayashi's patiently crisp handling is broodingly tailored, alienating and is basically all mood or otherwise you could call it undoubtedly bland. Your choose? The characters are quite a forgettable and senselessly disposable bunch of saps who struggle to feel any empathy for. Kumiko Aso, Shun Sugata and Haruiko Kato simply cruise through it with distant performances.
Seemed interesting enough to start, but I quickly became lost as the plot goes from one set of characters (greenhouse workers) to another (the dude who was just starting to play with the computer and the computer major). Apparently, people are committing suicide for reasons that really aren't making much sense at all. There is a also ghosts popping up and a theory on them and then the suicides still don't make much sense. There is some commentary on isolation in modern society due to the internet, which could be the main problem for me. I am not one to be scared at the prospect of being alone, I in fact thrive on it as I just don't care for people that much anyway so that removes the main fear causer of the film for me so therefore it is destined to be disappointing. Still, it could have worked had a couple of points been fleshed out a bit more. One minute a dude is looking on a website and it mentions the forbidden room the next thing you know he is there at one of these rooms that are not explained at all (well I couldn't pick up on anything that explained their reason in the movie). Anyone who goes in to these rooms seems destined to die, if they in fact look at the disturbing things there (well it isn't that disturbing really). There is a rather good scene where a couple is driving through a dying and deserted city, but once again why were they doing this? I don't see what drove them to suicide even factoring in the loneliness theme. Just to much left unexplained, I like some mystery, but the point of a movie is to tell a story and this one does not do that very well for me. I do wonder if the red tape on the forbidden room was kind of taken from a Japanese short called "Crevices" or vise versa? Now that little short didn't explain anything either, but it was more effective than this movie in presenting itself.
I'd heard so many good things about this movie, I was rather stunned to find myself, well, bored. Please don't confuse me with someone who thinks horror means blood guts and false scares. Indeed, Kairo has, at times, a delicious brooding unnerving sense of dread, and some undeniably classic visuals and moments. But I found myself becoming less and less affected as the movie progressed, irritated even, that such a tantalizing idea was being drained of it's primal effectiveness. In the end, the haunting deeply felt fear that Kairo sporadically creates is left stranded, and the only thing that I talked about after-wards was how it should've been better.
Dated both in its approach to the internet as being a new and
potentially dangerous thing and in some of its own computer effects,
which by now seem rather crude and the film lingers on them in a way
that tends to show off their limitations. Bad CGI plane crash at the
end is the worst Cg effect and isn't really needed. Nor is much of the
running time, the pacing just gets slower and slower and we have less
and less people as the plot unfolds so you got few people with less
Murky story doesn't help and a sort of stoic Japanese feeling keeps things from every exploding into the full fledged panic the story wants to demand, instead it's methods of scaring you become rather predictable and too much is left unexplained. At least there is no long haired little girl in it. Good potential here for a better remake which could bring out the suggested themes and give the damn thing a sense of urgency.
When I started watching the movie I initially enjoyed it. I found it quite suspenseful and atmospheric; the message that loneliness was a risk in modern society felt very interesting. After a while, however, the story seemed to become quite diffuse, containing several plot lines and events that were hard to combine. The movie wants to make a statement about society, but the unnecessary complexity of what is unfolding detracts from the clarity of the message. There is always suspension of disbelief in supernatural films, but I didn't feel that Kairo provided clarity through its alternate reality. As other comments mentioned, the movie feels like it was written on a day-by-day basis, rather than having a destination in place from the beginning to guide the movie's plot.
So I've read many positive reviews and decided to see this movie, with very
high expectations. I must say, I am very disappointed. Comparing to most
of the comments I've read, I must be quite "alone" in this
Why I am disappointed, many things come to my mind:
1) Weak Plot Why they even bother introducing Internet in the movie? It has nothing to do with it. Also, none of the plot makes sense to me. Why do people kill themselves? What are the ghosts trying to accomplish? Can someone please give me a coherent explanation?
2) Not Scary At All I was watching this movie alone in the dark, *YAWN*, Nothing really scared me at all... In fact, at times, I just can't stop laughing at the stupidity (this guy walks into a red taped room to pick up the gas cap? Come on! Give me a break!)
I can go on and on about better "end of the world" movies that I have seen, this is definitely not one of them.
Although perhaps not a great film in the traditional sense, Pulse
(2001) is nonetheless a completely fascinating work, offering a great
mood and atmosphere rife with claustrophobia and a continual sense of
loneliness and cultural alienation. The themes and concerns expressed
here are very much Japanese in context - both in terms of their design
and in their actual presentation - with the slow pace, inexplicable
supernatural element and concern over the growing seclusion and
alienation of Japanese youth enslaved by their technology. It would
seem to be a persistent fear/concern for most Japanese filmmakers, with
other films, such as the massively successful Ringu (1998), Shinya
Tsukamoto's Bullet Ballet (1997) and Takashi Miike's masterpiece
Visitor Q (2001) also looking at the breakdown in communication between
the different generations, as well as the overwhelming and often
negative effect that technological dependence and consumer culture has
had on the post-war generation, in regards to slowly eradicating the
basic principles of traditional Japanese social values.
The central character of Pulse is a clear representation of this phenomenon; secluded in his small flat, wandering lonely through nocturnal streets and attempting to master the use of his home computer in the apparent attempt of forging a literal connection with other, similarly lost souls. However, instead of attempting to create a straight drama from such a pertinent social dilemma, director Kyoshi Kurosawa has instead presented the idea within the context of a horror film. It is important to establish and appreciate these deeper themes if you're hoping to get the most out of this film, as Kurosawa structures it in such as way as to create horror from the simple premise of globalised alienation. Is the theme successfully conveyed? Well, perhaps... but that eventual judgement will really be down to the individual. Regardless, the film presents an intelligent idea - backed by a series of stark, atmospheric and heavily cryptic images - and invites the audience to interpret them on a subjective and entirely personal level. It can occasionally be quite confusing, with the film often feeling incredibly austere or dreamlike. A waking nightmare of sorts in which the loneliness and alienation of one character is visualised on an almost apocalyptic scale. There's also the theme of suicide and the various social taboos and spiritual aspects that such a notion can present in regards to the afterlife, which again, comes back to the central idea of alienation and characters being disconnected from other characters, even in death.
If there is a representation of the afterlife here then it is one that is every bit as lost and lonesome as the depressing presentation of our everyday life, with the characters here forced to live out every morbid, repetitive, soul destroying action again and again in the most excruciating detail. This is where the horror aspect of Pulse arises; not in scenes of quick cuts and the occasional burst of loud, spectral noises, but in the cultural wind of change, melancholy and alienation in which the empty, soulless void that for many people can come to represent their everyday life spills over into the eternal afterlife; giving us the representation of ghosts haunted by their own terrified memories of a life they never knew. If you attempt to view this within the context of a conventional, westernised idea of what a horror film should deliver you may be incredibly disappointed. As with the majority of Japanese cinema, the mood is sombre, the narrative slow and the characters prone to much in the way of silent brooding. However, if we view the film within the context of the social and spiritual concerns described above we get a greater sense of the true horror threatening these characters.
The depiction of drab, empty loneliness presented here is frightening and very unsettling; with the gloomy cinematography, ambient music and grey, minimal production design turning Tokyo into a cavernous, empty ghost-town of truly epic proportions and reminding me very much of Danny Boyle's similar, socially aware nightmare 28 Days Later (2002). Whereas that film targeted post 9/11 fear and the rising sense of aggression apparent in British youth, Pulse takes isolation, technological overload and the loss of traditional Japanese values and creates a labyrinthine underworld of wandering lost souls, both living and dead. The ending of the film takes these concerns and turns them into something epic and apocalyptic, but the focus remains tied to the human struggle. Yes, it can at times be slow and muddled, and does requires a great sense of understanding Japanese cultural taboos to really becomes accessible, however, this is a fascinating film; one that despite falling short of true greatness is nicely directed and very much worth experiencing by anyone with a fondness for films that make you think.
This wasn't a horror movie; just a horrid movie. Now I've seen and liked The Grudge (both US & Japanese versions) and Audition, so don't think I'm in some way biased against Japanese horror or films. This film is not just worth the time, and it feels like a LONG time. I watched this with five friends and after an hour-and-a-half one asked, "Does this movie END?" The plot is week and contradicting, and the depth of the characters is shallow. I felt no sympathy for the characters as they were apparently compelled to give up on life. This film was SLOW, never managing to build suspense and usually cut away (often disjointedly) when any suspense did try to build. When any "shocking" moment did occur there was no thrill; just a sense of relief that something finally happened. I did like some of the cinematography (such as a scene through the city at the end) as it often worked well to set the mood, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to salvage the story. I'm not looking for blood and gore for a horror movie to be good, but it has to be more than just bleak and despairing. Anyone who actually thinks this was scary might consider therapy and stay away from more frightening fare like Disney's Black Cauldron or Bambi.
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