Kairo (2001) Poster

(2001)

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10/10
Major Creep Fest
dbborroughs17 July 2004
Why isn't this available in the US?

I don't know how to describe this with out making it sound like something its not, but I have to say that this is one of the creepiest and most disturbing films I've seen in quite some time. Its not perfect, even if I gave it a 10 out of 10, simply because few films have left me that uneasy.

Operating well with a sense that I can only describe as dream logic this concerns the really weird events surrounding several people who notice something is wrong when a friend goes missing. The friend is not the trigger, but the event that they notice making them suspect that all is not right in their world.

Everything about how this story is calculated to send slowly building shivers up and down your spine. There are no real moments of shock, just ever growing horror and unease. I hated the way that this movie made me feel but couldn't stop watching.

If there are any flaws is that the film is a bit long at just under two hours. The pacing wears and the logic, while frightening gets stretched almost to the breaking point.

If you can stand slow calculating horror films that freak you out with images and implications then see this movie. Its one of the best I've seen in a while.
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10/10
Probably my favorite movie
Scatterpulse3 July 2009
This movie is very touching. In fact, almost painfully so. I would recommend it to anyone in the mood to engage in a thought-provoking narrative about the human condition.

I have to admit that when I first saw this film I did not expect it to be what it is. The basic premise involves a haunted website, so when I sat down to view it I was expecting something at the same level of terrible as fear.com; instead, I was shocked to find a truly provocative story full of surrealism and drama that examines the concept of isolation and the deep fear that all people have of loneliness.

This, of course, means that the fear that Kairo invokes is not typical of the horror movie genre--at least not the North American horror movie genre; I can't speak for the Japanese--because it isn't really scary. It's disturbing and eerie, and frankly I wouldn't watch it alone in the dark, but I'll admit that I'm a bit of a coward (The Grudge still terrifies me, so make of that what you will). If you go into this movie wanting to see people being hacked apart, or if you want to be jumping out of your seat every few minutes by fake-out scares, you will probably be pretty angry by the time this one's over. Seriously--you'll probably be more freaked out by the original version of Dark Water, and that's saying something.

However, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. This film provides a very moving portrayal of people's inability to truly connect with one another. It offers a bleak examination of human nature without being heavy-handed or pretentious; it doesn't come off as condescending and the creators obviously aren't trying to be snobbish or "intellectual". It simply asks the question: can we ever truly connect with one another, or are we doomed to be alone by our very natures?
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5/10
More depressing than scary, and not worth 2 hours...
MinionWench23 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I fully anticipate some hate in my direction, as some people have really taken to this film, but I have to say that it has just never done anything for me. I first watched it a couple of years ago and I had to force myself to finish it, for the sake of finishing it, but I was overwhelmingly bored. I returned to it again this afternoon (with a little bit of an older head on my shoulders :)) and I feel I can sort of offer a little more than 'boredom' as a comment.

I think you have to start off be coming to this film with the right preconceptions, or at least not the wrong ones. It doesn't fit the same 'type' of J-Film as the Grudge or Ring, there are deaths but it's not some vengeful she-ghost hunting you for eternity, this film tries to utilise a different sort of 'horror', on a more emotional or psychological level by focusing on very everyday human fears such as death, the afterlife, and loneliness.

It's interesting to see how (although much of the technology in the film is now very dated) some of the comments on it - such as those about how the internet doesn't really connect people - are still quite valid. But one of the problems I came to realise that I had with the film is that its message of an isolated world, with people ultimately being unable to face existing alone any more, felt too forced. It was alluded to or actually stated by the characters quite repeatedly, it was unmistakable what they were trying to 'say', and the more they said it the more depressed I felt.

I wasn't scared by the thought, I wasn't horrified or disturbed I just felt a bit blue. Watching the world become less and less populated just felt a little too unbelievable, I felt I was watching a film taking place in some kind of parallel Earth, I felt distanced from it and that distance just sort of numbed the impact.

One of the things I did like were the two separate stories playing alongside each other, and the meeting up, but I felt that the male student's story was far more engaging than the co-workers, they never seemed to progress in the story, they just kept dropping out one by one until the requisite one was left behind.

I also have to agree that some of the film is beautifully shot, but to balance it there are also lots of grey scenes (some of which are quite hard to see), intended I think to add to the isolated, cold, world, but it's not really enough to break up the film or to keep it visually exciting. You can only sit and watch people having conversations, or wandering around unhappily, for so long. The use of music is very good, actually lifting up some scenes and making them quite memorable (I'm thinking of the jumping woman, for those who have seen it). But there seem to be quite long periods without it, or where it isn't used to contribute at all.

I'm not saying that this is a horrible film, but I'm trying to balance out that it won't suit some people. Rent it first if possible, this isn't the kind of J-Horror film (can we call it horror?) that all films seem to be marketed as at the moment, it really might work for you, but it just didn't have the effect on me that it seems to have done on others here.
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10/10
The creepiest horror movie ever made
Zev23 July 2005
Sorry for the hyperbole topic but I mean it. I am a horror movie fanatic and I have become desensitized to cheap scares with loud noises and murderers running around with axes. I am very picky and only like one out of every few dozen horror movies I watch. I also don't like nonsensical supernatural horror that uses creepy images as a gimmick without actually bothering to make any sense. So when I say that this is the creepiest horror movie ever made, it is not hyperbole.

That said, this movie will bore or confound the average horror movie watcher. It is not linear or logical and it doesn't explain everything that is going on, but it doesn't have to.

This is an apocalyptic horror movie about loneliness and how people may become distant islands and ghosts even through connecting technology like cellphones and the internet. I don't know how anyone can make a horror movie about loneliness and make it creepy as hell but Kiyoshi Kurosawa pulled it off.

That's all you need to know. Experience it with the lights off, no breaks, noise or distractions, or I will lock you in a room with a depressed ghost and tape the door shut with red tape until you become so lonely you will evaporate into nothing.
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10/10
Forever death is eternal loneliness.
HumanoidOfFlesh2 March 2004
Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Kairo" has to be one of the most mesmerizing supernatural horror films I have ever seen.The film is loaded with extremely dark and brooding atmosphere and some scenes actually scared me.The photography by Junichiro Hayashi is truly beautiful and the score is very haunting.The theme of "Kairo" is that at the end of the line there isn't anything except a fearful nothingness-no heaven or hell,just a miserable eternity of living in between states.The film is cold and bleak,even nihilistic in its portrayal of total isolation."Kairo" is pretty slow-moving and there is absolutely no gore,so fans of "Scream" or similar crap will be disappointed.Still the visuals are amazing:dark skies,deserted streets and crawling shadows will leave you stunned.A must-see for fans of Japanese horror.10 out of 10.
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9/10
Incredibly Creepy and Haunting
shark-435 November 2002
This film works on many levels. What's odd is that one place it is weak in is the plot - it does somewhat tie it all up and make sense but my main point is it doesnt really matter - the director set out to make a scary ghost story and that it is! I see horror films from all over the world so I am pretty jaded when it comes to something "scaring" me but this film has many sequences that truly are frightening and disturbing. Some of the images have stayed with me for weeks. The lighting, the art direction and the use of muted colors (aside from reds used effectively)all make up for a creepy, eerie visual. I have to laugh at the arrogance of some of the comments on this and other "horror" films that claim since it didnt scare them the film is NOT SCARY. That is b.s. What scares one person may not scare another. You can say the piece didn't scare you but to make such a sweeping statement is vain. I personally didn't like any of the Friday of 13th movies, but obviously those films work on some level for millions of people. This film is so non-American in it's pace and core that that is what might turn off some viewers, but that's what I loved about it. The director just sets up the camera and keeps it on a space and then has things slowly emerge from the sides - he has you start to look and scope and wonder if you are REALLY seeing something as opposed to the lazy, bloated SHOCK moment of most US horror films. There are moments when people are confronted by visions/images of ghosts that move and terrorize just like real dreams - slow movements, awkward movements as the ghost approaches you. Terrifying. The film definitely doesn't know how to wrap it all up but in many ways, I found this film even scarier than the original RING. Well made ghost story. Seek it out, fans.
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8/10
Remarkable, intensely creepy
Robert W Saint John4 June 2002
I don't want to give away anything about this wonderful, haunting film. If you liked "The Sixth Sense", "The Others" or "Ring", this will show you how those films pale in comparison. I felt my skin crawl so many times, and the movie has been haunting my thoughts for days now. I sincerely hope that a wider audience has a chance to experience this dark, beautiful film.
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8/10
Made me squirm...
saladin-1012 March 2007
I'm an old horror buff. I've seen some of the more notorious stuff around (Salo, Cannibal Holocaust, Caligula,...), but they all more or less about visceral horror.

Which doesn't work if you helped slaughter a few pigs.

What does work? Psychological horror. Impending doom you cannot prevent. Things you can't see or understand, but that are there right in front of your face. Music that shouldn't be scary, but which lingers anyway.

It's a typical, slow moving J-Horror with an atypical idea behind it. That oblivion is actually preferable than immortality.

Gore doesn't scare me - but some ideas do.

Like i said - it made me squirm... One of the best horror movies ever made - for the patient ones.
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10/10
truly frightening
Ryan Miller13 June 2007
a horror film hasn't given me chills in a while. this film made me feel as isolated and terrified as the characters in the movie. I had seen the American re-make before this film, and i'm kind of glad I did, because I got to save the best for last. If you were disappointed by the American Pulse, this predecessor will certainly make up for that sorry excuse for a horror.

I can say without a doubt this is one of my top films to watch alone in a dark room if I wanted to scare the hell out of myself. And that just puts a big grin on my face. Not to mention, the lighting and cinematography in this film is also really well done, and adds a lot to the completely creepy mood throughout. While the story may be hard to follow if you don't know the history behind the film beforehand, it's scary either way. I've watched it twice now, and it's just as good the second time around. Even though this film is considered an older J-horror film, it's still fresh in my book.

I think horror film makers that rely on cheap thrills and gore should take Kairo for a spin, they'd learn a lot from it. Kairo is a truly haunting, scary film that will leave your eyes wide open in terror. 10/10
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9/10
A unique Japanese horror film
LoneWolfAndCub21 December 2007
Kario (Pulse) is unlike any Japanese horror I have seen. As much as I love the Ju-On series, the scares come from creepy ghosts that pop-up from unseen places. They are good movies, but those scares wear off after awhile. However, in Kairo the ghosts don't pop up suddenly and they aren't accompanied by loud music. They are just there and boy are they creepy. Sometimes they do nothing, they just stand there, staring. It creates a feeling of unease and constantly keeps the viewer on edge.

It's not just the ghosts that are unique, the story is incredibly interesting and intelligent. But it is not linear, logical and it doesn't explain everything (it doesn't have to, though). It really leaves it up to us what to decide. This is what is so good about this movie, it's much unlike most horror films. Forget all the recent American horror films, although some are excellent they really aren't like this. This film is almost like a dream in some ways. It goes at a very slow pace (clocking in just under 2 hours) and there aren't a lot of scares. At times the story may seem illogical but I beg to differ.

Kairo is really an apocalyptic horror much like the 2002 British horror film 28 Days Later (just replace zombies with ghosts). Also like 28 Days Later, this film carries a very profound social message but unlike 28 Days Later this one is about loneliness and how people become distant through the use of technology. There's also a heavy emphasis on the evils of suicide.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa has created an intelligent, unique horror film that doesn't quite get the attention it deserves. If your willing to experience movie that will leave your unsettled and weired out afterwards, look no further than Kairo.

4½/5
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1/10
Not scary, not coherent, but not completely bad (or good either)
starving_college_student9 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
My friend let me borrow this. With my friend being a major film buff and having a refined taste in films, I was expecting something really good here. And me being a graduate from film school (still making short films and Japanese horror films no less) I've come to realize that the Japanese horror genre is something truly gritty, dark and frightening. Films like Ring, Ju-on and Audition are completely terrifying pieces of horror. This film however is not a part of that category.

While billed as a horror film, it really doesn't feel like horror. There really is no tension built up because the pacing is very dream like. Also in all horror films there is a clear "evil" plaguing the main characters. But throughout this movie I was left wondering "what the ?#($ is going on? Are these ghosts? Whats the motivation?" Even after the "explanation." In this movie, the explanation is trying to be logical, but if you think about it, the logic of it is completely ludicrous. And more importantly it doesn't explain anything. It doesn't give connections to why this is happening with the computers and why these "red tape" rooms are being created. Now I don't know if this lack of coherency is a result of a bad translation of the subtitles (but I can speak Japanese and could understand some of the original as well). It feels like certain things were "left out." For example, in the tag-line used for the movie on this site, it talks about a web-cam that is used. There is never once a mention of a web-cam in the movie, nor did I see one.

And that is the second problem. This film is so gritty and so dark that its really difficult to see things properly. (that's my one complaint about Japanese films, they are all so poorly lit) I grew more frustrated than intrigued because things were not clear enough the make out.

And lastly the characters and situations are not really plausible. The world this story takes place is overly contrived. Everyone is lonely and has no friends. I mean, not one friend. That's not normal, even for someone who is lonely. The way everyone reacts also isn't very believable. It feels like the film maker had something to say, but in doing so created a place and characters which aren't totally believable.

I have to say that this movie was completely baffling to me. But there was a very creepy and gritty atmosphere built up. But for this viewer, it is not enough. A movie is supposed to be everything coming together to tell a visual story. Here the story is lost somewhere in the murk of the atmosphere.
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5/10
Another "blurry things will scare you" flick. Decidedly average.
oneguyrambling14 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Righto, another Japanese ghost story along the lines of The Ring and The Grudge, among others. I hadn't heard of Kairo but picked it up off the shelf after reading some glowing blurb on the DVD cover, (Stupid. Stupid! STUPID!!). What I found was a depressing, disjointed and generally confusing piece of low rent film making in search of inspiration that never came. The basic premise of Kairo is that there simply isn't enough room for ghosts anymore, so they must find "other means" to be heard, and are often forced into the environment of the living. At least that is what I am going with, this thing is as confusing as f*ck. When I say "other means", in this case it means ghosts have gone high-tech, they are more internet savvy than most teens, and aren't averse to calling the odd mobile phone for a chat. Where the title Pulse comes in I have no idea, a more catchy title would have been Ghost Hackers, would've made more sense too. Now a bunch of stuff happens in Kairo and I'm sure if you took the time to watch it you might initially not notice that none of it makes sense whatsoever. It seems that from the early stages the ghost(s) seem to be targeting the employees of a Japanese plant store, as one by one they are bumped off. So this is a summary of the first hour: "Taguchi is missing… and he has the disk!" Shortly after: Exit Taguchi. "Oh no, not you too Yabe!" Exit Yabe. "The Boss too?" No more Boss. (Yay sickies for everyone!) "Now Junco!" It's like an "Axe-murderer slaughtering horny teens flick without the benefit of T&A, gore and inventive kills. You might ask "What time does the next bus leave?", to which I would reply "What the hell type of question is that?". You might then more rationally ask "But is it scary, do they build tension?" Well now that's a better question. The answer? Not really aside from one scene that took forever, also made no sense, and then finished up by being a wannabe The Grudge out-take, not something I would aspire to. Sure there are the subliminal things that seem to come up a lot these days: - The reflection that can magically be enhanced and magnified from a crappy resolution image on a PC screen. - The "did I just see that?", rub the eyes, nothing there, "wait now it's back" thing. - The shadow on the edge of the screen walking behind while a "whoosh" sound effect is used to highlight the sheer scariness of it all. - The dimly lit room that when better lit shows a motionless person standing behind you. The one scene that is effective, occurs when one of our loyal Plantco employees visits The Forbidden Room. Now you aren't supposed to visit the Forbidden Room. Why? Because it's forbidden, that's why. The scene plays out like it should and while you wonder what is going on tension does build. Taking away a little is some ludicrously cheesy and offputting "Oooooohhhhh" music, (it's really bad). There are many more scenes that are quite randomly edited together so as to remove all continuity and not allow the tension to build. This frequently took me out of the movie as I was always on my heels wondering "Why are we back with this guy when 5 seconds ago we seemed to be right in the middle of the other girl doing something?" The Ring was a great remake of a Japanese horror flick, The Grudge less so but justified a look, The Uninvited mainly sucked. I know they have made a remake of Shutter but think that the original was good enough on its own. I know they have made remakes of many other Asian horror flicks and I haven't bothered looking most of them up. In the case of Kairo I think the US filmmakers had a better than normal chance of improving on the original, because it just isn't much chop in the first place and is all over the shop. Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. All sloppy editing and pursuing a concept that isn't scary in the first place makes Kairo a dull movie.
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9/10
Don't watch before bed
SeeMeBeCB4 January 2013
I am writing this review because I'm too scared to walk to my room and get in bed.

This movie is terrifying. It's slow, but keeps you completely engaged the entire time. The plot is confusing, but adds to its appeal. It's open to interpretation, which I like in a movie. I don't want everything laid out. Where's the mystery in that? You don't realize what's happening until it creeps up on you very, very gradually. You think you have the movie pinned, then you start questioning what's going on. Everything feels wrong, out of place, and extremely dreadful throughout. You won't like how you feel, but you'll want to see it through anyway.

If you like plot-driven movies where there's a place for everything and everything in its place, so to speak, this one's not for you. This movie's focus is atmosphere and pure psychological terror, not logic.

There's definitely some social commentary in this one. It's a thoughtful film and for being low-budget, the special effects are well-done. You'll be thinking about what this movie means to you.

I really want to warn everyone who is considering watching this- it will haunt you. The ghost images are NOT your everyday American shock-fest. They will burrow into your psyche and live there, probably for a long time. And they are not pleasant.

I honestly almost wish I hadn't seen this movie...
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3/10
This film is not for everyone---I found it VERY tough going
MartinHafer4 February 2008
This film is about a gap that exists between the real world and the world of the dead. There's a lot of mumbo-jumbo about the internet (i.e., if you install a program on the computer, you see dead folks--much like if you play a videotape you'll die in RINGU). Frankly, most of this seemed rather silly and lost me. What I did find interesting is the idea that the dead live within their own separate existence--being totally alone for eternity. This was sobering and fascinating.

I love Japanese films and have seen a huge number compared to most Americans. However, one genre that has become popular in recent years that I just can't relate to very well are these horror films. I know they are super popular--especially since they seem to be remade so often in the States. I've seen both RINGU as well as THE RING, JU-ON and THE GRUDGE and was rather ambivalent despite their popularity. About the only recent horror film I really liked from Japan was SEANCE--a reworking of the great British film, SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON. And what, do I think, made SEANCE different? Well, unlike the other films as well as KAIRO, gobs and gobs of money weren't spent on special effects or trying to scare the audience--instead, the emphasis was on the story. The bottom line is that these other films are a lot like American films like HALLOWEEN or Friday 13th--with scary things jumping out just to scare the audience and plot is purely secondary (at best). For me, I want story--not cheap thrills or ghosts as the primary focus of the film.

With a relatively high rating, I know I am in the minority, but I just don't find this a very satisfying film. All too often, minor things occur that might startle someone slightly--but the characters begin screaming and crying and acting as if to say "this is the scariest film ever made so you'd better start shaking". Well, I think it just tries too hard and I wish it had focused more on the afterlife seen at the end of the film and plot progression--not scare tactics.
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1/10
Does this even deserve a genre?
omg_a_baby23 June 2010
I cant even describe how terrible this movie is. It started off very interesting with the tagline "do you want to meet a ghost?" I've always been a fan of Asian horror movies so I decided to give this movie a try after reading some of the reviews on this site and rotten tomatoes.

As I started watching this, I was waiting with anticipation to see what kind of story would be unfolded; the movie ended and still nothing had happened except the best part--the credits. How did this even get passed off as a movie???????? Some things I will never understand!

This movie was seriously overrated. It has a pretty slow build up that just eventually levels off because you start dozing off. My friend literally fell asleep on me in the middle of this movie. He woke up and was like "Did I miss anything?" And folks you already know what my response was. The characters in this movie were so static. They had no character development and heck, when they died I didn't feel anything at all. I actually felt happy because that was one less character who would potentially add a subplot and drag out this horrible movie. You feel no attachment to any of the characters in this movie nor do you care what they are doing or what is going to happen to them.

To answer my question, yes, this movie does deserve a genre. It belongs in the trash. I didn't like this movie, but you might so you can still give it a try. Just don't watch this movie with the expectations of an actual thriller/horror. This movie is extremely slow paced and gets caught up in its own storyline. I understand that not every movie will have a suspenseful/"scary" part but if you want to make a horror/thriller part you need SOMETHING at least! Throw me a scary face or something will ya?
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5/10
Starts out well, limps to a long drawn out conclusion
northwatuppa1 October 2006
This film starts out well, doing all the right stuff. It had me going for awhile.

But it get's slower, and slower, and slower--not to mention murkier. It is one of those films that would have worked fine as a 90 minute movie--even with some flaws.

But , anyway, this film goes on for about two hours, long after the viewer's interest has begun to wander and you've started scratching your head, wondering exactly what is happening.

Toward the end it kind of degenerates into overly long scenes of people running around in blasted, derelict industrial buildings breathing very hard into their microphones and shouting uninspired, predictable dialogue.

Some things just aren't very dramatic. Longish scenes of people poking around in pretty much abandoned industrial settings looking for stuff and breathing hard into their microphones isn't dramatic.

By the end, we are working our way through a checklist of horror movie clichés in excruciatingly slow motion. Ancient horror movie clichés have to be executed with a certain cleverness, a certain panache, and perhaps a little inventive camera work/cutting. Some snappy dialogue, some attitude. Or maybe you just have to get them out of the way fast. That's not what happens in this film.

The premise is rather interesting, but some of the exposition kind of conflicts with the stated premise--unless the stated premise was a red-herring. It's hard to tell from what they give you on screen and the film didn't motivate me to try to figure it out.

So, nice idea, good start ... really, really slow, pretty much unimaginative ending.

Maybe if they had had a bigger special effects budget ...
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Not easy to rate
odt28 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
There is no easy way to express my opinions on this film, so I will explain it.

There may be spoilers in here.

Background: I was sceptical when I started watching this movie. There used to be a time when I was captured by the hype and forced myself to believe slow Japanese movies simply have to be good. Anyone who does not like them, simply does not get it. Yet lately, I have come to understand that many of those movies really are just boring, shallow, and expressionless. Japanese movies are not great in general because of their nationality, just like American or German films are not. I just recently saw Dark Water and Tomie and thought they were very dull. I did not really expect this to be very different. Luckily, I was positively suprised. Right at the beginning I noticed how incredibly beautifully this film was shot. Towards the middle of it though, it seemed to me as if this would be just another bad Japanese movie. It developed all the signs of that. E.g. charachters that are unnaturally introverted, even for a Japanese; that don't talk about the things, that happen to them. You can't really connect to those charachters, they don't have much of a charachter development. We've got a lot of atmosphere shots, but nothing really happens. Just what I feared. This kind of movie is not arty or culturaly meaningful. Its just shallow. Yet, as the film went on, I noticed this one is different. It seems to criticize the japanese culture for this lack of communication. What I thought would be a bad charachteristic of it, is actually the central point of it. It seems like the director consiously displayed the charachters, the way I described before, not because this is just another boring japanese movie, but because he tries to criticize this charachteristic of the Japanese society. At some point in the movie it is being said that the ghosts attempt to capture the people in their eternal loneliness. This may be a very strong hint. In the end it seems like this movie does not merely inherit the same bad aspects of other movies but analyzes them and more so the society behind it. In the end it is being said that there seem to be people alive in Latin America. Guess why: because they talk! They communicate, talk about the ghosts and don't let themselves become lonely that easy. None of the Japanese charachters in this movie seem to have friends. The main charachter tells the girl with the car that he had one friend who he did not really know. He also said earlier that he maybe got an internet connection to meet people. I think this does all support my theory. What do you think?
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Overrated and not scary at all
julesee8 November 2001
I went to see this movie because I was impressed by Cure. But compared to the earlier film, Pulse is a big disappointment. I was expecting Kurosawa to say something interesting about psychological terror, which he did masterfully in Cure. Instead, Pulse is a not-so-subtle indictment of the internet and how it makes young people feel alone and alienated. Not exactly a fresh idea. Plus the acting in this movie really sucks -- the kids are pretty whiny, and I didn't empathize with them at all. This movie needed a stronger actor, like Koji Yakusho from Cure (who only makes a cameo here). Hopefully, Kurosawa's next movie will be an improvement.
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3/10
Not Worth It!
ichimaru13 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm actually surprised how highly rated this movie is on here considering all the other, much better Asian horror films on the market. I went into this with mediocre expectations at the least and was completely let down. The plot summary seemed like a great idea and could have probably made a good movie.

It started out well enough. It seemed as if it was gearing up for a creepy climax with the first suicide and the appearance of the ghost site on the internet. However, this disjointed and hole-riddled plot disgorged something far worse than terror - boredom and confusion.

*************************************** ************SPOILER WARNING************ ***************************************

It all starts with a "forbidden room" that everyone seems to somehow know about, but doesn't exactly explain how some of the characters know about it or why. They just do. For plot's sake. The room, like many other rooms throughout this movie, is sealed in red (always red) tape. Apparently, it's to keep the ghosts sealed in the room. Why? Well, naturally you'd think it's because the ghosts want to kill the living, but if you thought that you'd be wrong.

No, unfortunately, the answer to the problem is something much dumber than poltergeist haunting. The ghosts basically make human beings suffer depression because of loneliness (it never quite explains how this happens with couples or families since the focus is pretty much on the main characters and the rest of the world simply dies somehow), and because they can't resist the depression they kill themselves and/or get so depressed they turn into blackened stains on the wall or floor (depending on how they died), unable to move or escape their misery, yet somehow able to call their friends and call for help, although how they expect their friends to save them, I have no idea... I guess they don't know either.

So here we are with ghosts depressing people so badly that they turn into lonely little stains calling for help. This is pretty bad. And it only gets worse from there. There just isn't much logic or common sense present in this movie. The plot, although it does tie the whole thing together in the end, still has severe plot holes, bad dialog that doesn't make sense to anyone but the writers and perhaps the depressed characters themselves (and is being said because they are depressed so depressed they simply aren't thinking straight), and pretty much no frightening scenes to speak of.

The ghosts look like people you can see through and not even remotely scary or frightening people at that. They look like normal people. The reactions of the characters that see the ghosts range from absolute mind-numbing terror (where they blatantly can't think straight) to outright denial. The terror is the worst part because it simply looks like a normal person is standing over them while they freak out for no reason at all. It looks cheap and the ghosts simply aren't terrifying. What happens to the characters that all die simply doesn't evoke fear or horror at all. It lacks a lot.

Go watch something better. You're not likely to really miss much here.
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7/10
J-Horror Does it Again
gavin694213 July 2017
A group of young people in Tokyo begin to experience strange phenomena involving missing co-workers and friends, technological breakdown, and a mysterious website which asks the compelling question, "Do you want to meet a ghost?"

Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa spent years working in the world of "pink" films and direct-to-video movies. He was at this time best known in the west for "Cure" (1997), though it was "Pulse" that would make him an international sensation. Assisting him is cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi, known for two other J-horror modern classics, "Ring" and "Dark Water".

"Pulse" was released at the right time for American audiences to latch on to. The American version of "The Ring" came out in 2002, and sparked a wider interest in Japanese horror, kicking off a wave of remakes. This also helped get the originals a wider distribution in the States -- "Pulse" being among those, as well as "Audition" and many of the Takashi Miike films that had previously been very niche.

Kurosawa uses this film not just to tell a good ghost story, but to explore "the horror of isolation" in a world of increased inter-connectivity. With its dreary, depressing color palette and empty space, we find this story about the Internet to truly be about loneliness. Whether intentional or not, it is a clever social commentary that may be more true today (2017) than it was at the time.

Some early reviews were critical because the film is heavier on style than substance and the narrative is not completely coherent. But since then, praise has only grown. In 2012, Jaime Christley of Slant magazine listed the film as one of the greatest of all time. In the early 2010s, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films. "Pulse" placed at number 65 on their top 100 list.

The Arrow Video Blu-ray is a fine package and a great excuse to re-visit this film. Contents include (but are not limited to) new interviews with writer/director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (at an astounding 43 minutes!), actor Show Aikawa and cinematographer Junichiro Hayashi (24 minutes); "The Horror of Isolation", a new video appreciation featuring Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett; an archive 'making of' documentary, plus four archive behind-the-scenes featurettes.
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5/10
Really disappointing
themadhatter7628 September 2012
I went into this film with such high expectations after reading so many glowing user reviews on IMDb. Perhaps my expectations were set too high, I don't know, but it failed to deliver on all counts. If blurry images of people are likely to scare you then this is definitely the horror film for you. I may as well have just taken my spectacles off and looked at my house mate for an hour and a half though. The story is so disjointed and I spent the majority of my time discussing what the hell was going on with my house mate. He didn't know either. Neither of us are idiots but we are massive horror fans. The characters turn up at what are meant to be significant locations but you've got no idea where these places are or what significance they play in the film. I can kind of see what they were trying to do with the film but it felt like they were trying to be too clever and then did a rush job putting it all together. If the scares were good then it would have saved the wishy-washy story, but my grandma with her false teeth out is ten times more scary than people standing around in dim light looking at the camera.
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4/10
A bit too weird
sarastro71 May 2005
Hm - I'm not quite sure what this movie is about, but it seems to be a statement addressing the growing problem of loneliness, and (at least in part) blaming the Internet for keeping people so absorbed that they for all practical purposes disappear from the real world, becoming... something else. It seems to be a movie denouncing technology as bad for us, because it steals from us the attention we should be giving to each other. Apparently, this results in the end of the world, or nearly so. I don't agree.

I thought Kairo was a boring, over-long movie which made me sleepy, and which ended up not being worthwhile, because it didn't show its points clearly enough.

My rating: 4 out of 10.
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4/10
Watching Black Paint Dry
w00f26 August 2006
I only heard about this movie after seeing the 2006 American remake. While the remake was certainly not a great movie, this is one of those cases where it was an improvement upon the original.

"Kairo" is, above all else, slow-paced and traumatically boring. The editing is laughably poor at points as well, with one scene abruptly chopping off into another in a manner that leaves the viewer scratching his head as to what just happened.

If you can stay awake through the first forty-five tranquilizing minutes, you'll then be treated to such earnestness, such seriousness and gravity, that you will yourself wish you could be sucked into the nearest wall. Perhaps you will be. This film is quite capable of dissolving the viewer into a puddle of black goo.

The one bright spot in this film is the setting. The imagery here does manage to create a palpable air of loneliness and human isolation. Unfortunately, in the overall context, this has the effect of largely alienating the viewer, too. Perhaps that's what it was intended to do, but with the rest of the film plodding along and taking itself so seriously, it doesn't save this sinking ship. The American version at least brought in a few suspense-building elements; the Japanese version has none of this. There's nothing here to draw the viewer into the story, and so the overall effect is quite a bit like ambient Muzak on an elevator. This film is best used as background noise with an occasional glance while the viewer does something more useful with her time.
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4/10
"Post-modernistic" pretensions fail completely.
innocuous10 June 2006
This stuff was old in the '60s. Metaphors for man's isolation in the modern world, blah-blah-blah, yadda-yadda....

I once wrote a 10-page paper on the imagery of red and white in the partisan assassination scene of "Dr. Zhivago". It was BS and so is this film.

There is a bit of creepy imagery, which is the only reason that I gave this 3 stars instead of just 2. The sound editing is poor and the pacing is abysmal.

I'm going to be generous and assume that the English subtitles were not up to par. Perhaps there's another level of meaning in the original Japanese. As it stands, it is basically identical to the first project of a recent film school graduate.
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30 minutes was all that I could take
ottaky20 June 2004
I'll lay my cards on the table and admit that I don't go a bundle on horror films, but that I do enjoy Japanese movies

Sadly, I just couldn't get into this one. My (Japanese) wife borrowed the DVD from her friend and watched it last night - today she told me it was "scary" and that she had enjoyed it. Please bear in mind that my wife's favourite film of all time is Mannequin(!)

This afternoon I sat down to watch the disc myself - I switched it off after 30 minutes because, basically, it was just wasting my time.

Dark, dull and unengaging, Kairo is a Ringu wannabe but it has neither the script or the pace to come anywhere close. Reading the other comments on here it seems that Kairo is popular with others, so maybe you need to be a horror fan to appreciate it.
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