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The involvement of Johnathan Rhys-Meyers and Madeline Stowe made me
interested in seeing Pulse/Octane. For the first part of the movie I
was rewarded with cool photography, a nightmarish tone and the
increasingly complex portrayal of a messed up mother-daughter dynamic. I
began to get excited about what was to come as I was reminded of great
classics like The Hunger, Aliens or Near Dark. Unfortunately, this
potential never came to fruition.
What begins as an examination of a mother's will to protect her petulant daughter from herself soon decays into just another "B" horror movie full of clichés and buffoonish action. Shifting the perspective from Stow's character to the daughter's (Micha Barton) removes all weight and tension from the story since Barton's character is as fluffy and foolish as any MTV V-Jay. Why should we root for the mother when the heroin-chic daughter would so obviously be more happy partying with Bijou Phillips' vacuous hitchhiker?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers uses his trademark sensuality to good effect here, but his character, "The Father," is given such short-shrift that he never becomes more than a caricature. Still, if he is some kind of symbol for wanton lasciviousness, it looks so good on him one roots for Barton to accept his advances and ditch her mother's increasingly silly attempts to save her.
Movies like this are really irritating because of what they could have been with a bit more vision on the part of the writer and director. I'm sure Stowe and Rhys-Meyers saw the potential in the script and were then disappointed. For me, Pulse/Octane is one that got away...
While driving back home with her spoiled and arrogant teenager daughter
Natasha Wilson (Mischa Barton), the divorced and pills addicted Senga
Wilson (Madeleine Stowe) stops in a restaurant on the road for a coffee
break. When they are leaving the place, Nat invites a mystic and
mysterious hitchhiker to travel with them. Later, Nat meets her father
Marek (Samuel Fröler) and has a serious discussion with her mother, and
she runs away from her mother, joining a weird group. Along the night,
Senga tries to find and recover her daughter. "Octane" is a bizarre
movie, having an excellent and intriguing beginning (the first fifty or
sixty minutes), but ending in a complete mess. The style in the
beginning recalls David Lynch, or David Cronenberg, with bizarre
situations, but the conclusion is very ridiculous. I do not know what
is recently happening with the writers of screenplay of horror movies:
they create good plots with intriguing idea, but the conclusions are
horrible. Just as an example, "Gothika", "Jeepers Creepers", "The Sin
Eater" and "Dreamcatcher" are in this situation. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Octano O Caminho do Mal" ("Octane The Way to the Evil")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The kindest thing I can say about this film is it's trying hard to be
things on many levels. At least it's trying - very, at times, as I found
by the end.
The story starts with an overturned car on a bridge and the dying passengers groaning in agony. The paramedics on the scene turn out to be imposters more concerned with removing the bodies altogether but vanish quickly when the real emergency services arrive - a compelling start.
We turn to a mother (Madeleine Stowe) driving her teenage daughter home one night; they witness the carnage by the roadside and are waved along by police. Their relationship is tense and uneasy, culminating in a bitter argument in a truck stop and the girl flounces off in a huff. Minutes later the distraught mother sees her daughter climbing into a winnebago driven by the spooky couple seen hanging around at the earlier car crash - and so begins the cat and mouse hunt for the return of the ungrateful wench back to Stowe.
The idea in principle is excellent, the cinematography stylish, the editing intelligent, the soundtrack appropriately moody and atmospheric, the acting accomplished most of the time. It's just a shame the plot disintegrates an hour into the picture; the audience were sniggering by the end as the seemingly invincible Stowe single-handedly takes on a chemical plant, a cult of complete loonies and a variety of incendiary devices without a second thought. Her transformation from a pill-popping, overwrought nag of a mother to Lara Croft is laughable, especially since she suffers a serious car accident in the middle of all this, only to walk away with a blob of stage makeup at her temple, and a renewed commitment to retrieve her kid from the moonies.
Towards the end the subtext also questions the morality of abortion, which is for a start completely at odds with the amoral lifestyle of the character posing the question, but moreover a weird position to take in a self-consciously arty film like this, where the pro-life/freedom of choice issue is utterly irrelevant. A nihilistic film like this has no point anyway, so why ruin the climax with unconvincing pro-life rhetoric?
The cult's enigmatic leader possesses an eery knowledge of Stowe's past which again is inexplicable and comes too late in the film to be examined properly - more of this might have saved the film's failing integrity. By the time he gets around to condemning her for her attempted termination (at the same time as cutting his own tongue with a razor blade and opening the boot of a car to reveal the poor girl's dead father lying there - you see my point) the film's nearly over and there's no opportunity to delve further. I'm being too kind; at this point the movie had decended into total farce and I'd lost my concentration anyway.
The nauseating happy-ever-after ending reminded me of so many Stephen King novels where the author has set the scene so brilliantly he ties himself up in complete knots and the resulting ending's a huge disappointment.
What a pity a film with so many strengths and so much potential fell at the first hurdle.
Before I rented the DVD, I came here to check out some of the reviews ... and they weren't that good. But I trusted my gut instinct and rented it anyway. So now that I've seen Octane, I have to say it's far better then most people say, but I also agree that this movie could've benefited from some kind of explainable narrative. Only people like David Lynch can pull off extremely unlikely plot lines and weird twists that don't make sense, without the audience questioning them. In case of Octane your suspension of disbelief only goes so far, that's the only negative thing I can say about this film. the acting is good, visually the movie is worth watching (some fresh ideas and nice shots), the soundtrack is terrific and the overall mood is just the way I like it. It is a flawed exercise in style, but definitely deserves more credit than it's getting so far.
While a lot of people are going to disagree with me, I think "Octane"
(aka "Pulse") is an underrated horror movie. The film begins with a
horrible car accident scene, where a dying man is suffering within the
wreckage. A squad of impostor medical workers show up on the scene, but
soon scramble to leave the scene after the actual medical crew arrives.
We are then introduced to Senga Wilson (Madleine Stowe) and her teenage
daughter, Natalie (Mischa Barton), who are on a late-night road trip on
their way back home. Senga gets tired at the wheel, nearly crashing the
car, but insists that she's fine and that they need to get home because
Nat has school the next morning. After convincing her mother to stop,
Nat and Senga enter a truck stop for a coffee-break. The people within
the truck stop seem a little weird too. After picking up a disappearing
hitchhiker (Bijou Phillips), Senga and Nat get into a heated argument,
and Natalie runs off with the hitchhiker (who re-appears) and a group
of strange people. Now it's up to Senga to get her daughter back from
the blood-letting cult, with the help of a truck-driver (Norman Reedus)
who also is aware of the psychotic blood-drinkers.
The whole film's idea and premise is intriguing, albeit a little strange. While this film may seem like a clichéd horror flick, "Octane", also known as "Pulse" from the video release, has a lot more going for it. The story is fairly well-written, the cinematography is very stylish and adds an eerie texture to the movie, the music is surreal and fitting, and the performances were all-around well done. The foreboding atmosphere of no escape is extremely consistent throughout the film, giving the movie a surreal and nightmarish feeling that works for the film's benefit. The entire thing almost seems like one big bad dream that you can't escape, and I think that is what made this film so interesting to me.
The movie was nicely shot and has some really eerie sequences tied into the plot, mostly Senga's encounters with the bizarre, extensive group of cult members that seem to run the entire area, mostly in the strange little off-road truck stops along the way. The opening is a great start, and the last twenty minutes or so- while they are a little strange - work out well and were all the more bizarre. Madeleine Stowe and Mischa Barton have surprisingly good chemistry, and play their roles as the troubled single-mother and the rebellious, bratty teenage daughter. I like both Stowe and Barton as actresses, and they do a good job here. The rest of the cast gives good performances also, nothing I saw was necessarily bad.
Although "Octane" has a few minor flaws (mostly some of the semi-confusing material that the plot revolves around and leaves unexplained), the film is done with a distinct surreal style, and uses some great imagery and a haunting score. While most people disagree, I think this film isn't nearly as bad as the reputation it seems to have. Granted, it's one strange movie, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. 7/10.
Damn! I still can't get over it. I expected absolutely nothing from "Octane" and such a nice surprise it turned out to be! Madeleine Stowe plays a stressy mother whose teenage daughter disappears together with a hitch-hiking girl they picked up earlier. The police doesn't believe her (actually, they are misled), and she goes off in search for her daughter, discovering several disturbing things along the way. Creepy and suspenseful flick, with a high 'what the hell is going on here'-feeling. Don't expect everything nicely explained to you, but a lot of the clues are there. A lot of people didn't seem to like this one (often because they were left with too much questions and thought the film to be messy in structure). It really is a shame, because this is a good & intriguing modern-day horror/thriller and highly under-rated, if you ask me. Not everything is spelled out for you, and that's the way I sometimes like 'em. At least for this one it worked for me. Not all events are plausible, I admit, but hey, it's a horror movie. Not a gory one, but near the end there is quite a bit of bloodshed. Especially some bloody painful things are being done to people's tongues. Great musical score by Orbital too.
As you have probably gathered from the other reviews, this film badly needed a script doctor. If you watch films only to watch "stories," then move on. If, however, you appreciate stylish. dreamlike imagery and provocative dramatic situations, then this film does have something to offer. "Pulse" has been running on Showtime (under the title "Octane") and I have watched long sections of it several times. As scenes and sequences, many of these sections are quite compelling. I would like to see what this film's screenwriter(s) produce in five or ten years and I would like to see this director work with more coherent material.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the right hands, this story could have been good. As it stands, it's a waste. The basic story of an angst ridden teen who runs away and joins a vampire cult is lost here. There are no real vampires and the cult itself isn't even really seen doing any blood drinking. There's a lot of drugged up looking imagery that would better suit a 1969 dope movie. Madeline Stowe's character just comes across as hysterical and delusional. It kind of makes you wonder if she's really in a nut house and this whole movie is just her delusion. It's not a good movie. And the ending is very typical Hollywood. Good girl gone bad goes good again. If you're looking for a vampire movie, this is not it. I don't see any reason to recommend this movie.
Could it my valves rattling from cheap gasoline or is that me banging my head upon the wall for having allowed myself to watch "Octane"? This movie appears to be a good example of what happens when someone has a vague idea of a film story but doesn't bother to hash it out on paper before turning the cameras on. Not surprisingly, about half way through the film, the story gets lost somewhere on the interstate between stupid and boring. I wish I could give you an idea of what this film is really about but I'm as clueless as director Marcus Adams and writer Stephen Volk. Take some advice guys, get a tune up and consider going back to film school. Only this time, try attending class once in a while.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie starts promising but the turning point of the "cult" lacked credibility. Also it seemed as the director did not want us to really connect with the victim. Going through her parent's divorce did not seem enough to be sympathetic the her attitude problem. The whole movie is a "Rosemarie's Baby" gone wrong were everybody around the main character looks suspicious and devilish. Also, apparently the Mom was drugged somehow and we are never clear when her hallucinations begin. Therefore the special effects on her "mental trips" confuse and do not add to the plot in an essential manner. It was sad that what could be a nice thriller turned out to be as boring as a flat soda pop. Too superficial.
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