I rented this after seeing the trailer for the American version, which I’m guessing is awful. But based on the trailer (and in particular one shot I wished I hadn’t seen because I kept waiting for it while I was watching the original), I decided to give it a try by watching the original instead.
Firstly, I should say that I failed to watch the movie as it should be seen (i.e. in one sitting, preferably in a dark room). It kept freaking me out, so I’d pause and go do something else for a little bit. During a couple of scenes, I sort of cheated by not looking, and then going back and rewatching to see if I missed anything. It’s been a while since I’ve been this creeped out.
But other than being incredibly creepy, I really liked what Kurosawa (no, not that Kurosawa) accomplished here. It’s a great existential story about alienation, hopelessness, technology, fear of death. I like that much of it was unexplained, making everything even more unsettling by the time the credits roll*. And there are some really incredible scenes that rely on craft rather than fancy effects. The cinematography, production design, sound design, and lighting are all distinct and a large part of what makes it work so well. I only wish it had better actors instead of just leaning on attractive young people.
Also, I know this is going to make me a total racist, but it’s really confusing when I can’t distinguish Japanese actors from each other. There were, I think, two distinct plot threads in Pulse, and I wasn’t always clear which chick was from which plot thread, and even then who was who. I did, however, successfully recognize the father from Babel, so yay for me not being a total racist dickhead Westerner!
So, my familiarity with J-horror is actually pretty lacking. I’ve seen, umm, the American version of Ringu and now this. Any suggestions for where to go next? And are all of them as metaphysically thoughtful as Pulse, or is it just a bunch of creepy kids running around and suddenly lunging at the camera?
- What the fuck is that song they play during the credits? Umm, hello, is fruity J-pop really the way you want to close your movie, Kurosawa?