The day I saw Pulse -- which, it must be noted, did not screen for critics -- I spent the morning dealing with Gmail having shut down my e-mail account as an 'automated security procedure' after I'd tried downloading my mail to Outlook. Then, at the gym, I stumbled on the new TreadClimber and nearly split my head open; after that, while text messaging to get show times on my phone, I failed to notice a change in the curb and almost went face-down in the street. So a horror film about modern technology trying to kill us felt like a nice fit for the day; certainly, it had been trying to annoy me to death for the past several hours.
Based on the 2001 Japanese horror film Kairo by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Pulse begins on a college campus: The kids there have all the gizmos and gadgets of modern life, they lived by frantically e-mailing and IM-ing each other. At one point, out for a night on the town, our heroine Mattie (Kristen Bell) gets a text message from her friend Tim (Samm Levine) -- who's sitting two chairs away. It's not funny to Mattie; she's worried about her boyfriend, Josh (Jonathan Tucker). "Our relationship has been reduced to text messaging ...", she notes to her friend Isabell (Christina Milian). "How tragic is that?"
Well, it's about to get a lot more so, as Josh has discovered a computer program -- on some server somewhere he was hacking around on -- that not only really seems to mess up his operating systems and desktop but also functions as a gateway for angry and unyielding undead forces to stalk the world in search of victims to slay; Josh is a victim of those unquiet and hungry spirits early, but he's not the last.