August 17, 2006
Kristen Bell stars in Veronica Mars and the Case of the Spooky Computer also known as Pulse, a cautionary little horror movie about what happens when we start using too much bandwidth.
Mattie Webber (Bell) is a smart, can-do college student dating something of a drippy boy named Josh (Jonathan Tucker). Josh has been a mopey Gus lately, just hanging around in his decay-filled apartment with its window blocked by red tape and staring at nothing with his hollow, heavily shadowed eyes. Mattie is worried so she calls, she texts and finally she visits. When she gets there, he drags around his apartment like a zombie and then goes into his bedroom to hang himself.
At first, Mattie is crushed. And then, when Josh continues to instant message her from beyond the grave, Mattie is freaked. She sends her friend Stone (Rick Gonzalez) to turn off Josh’s computer and Stone disappears. Also, it turns out Josh’s computer is not only off but it has been sold to computer fix-it guy Dexter (Ian Somerhalder). Mattie goes to visit Dexter and he shows her the creepy images of pre-suicide computer users that seem to be the only thing on Josh’s hard drive. And not just Josh’s hard drive. Ghostly images are appearing on screens across the city, across the world. Some of these images make spooky eye contact with the viewer; some of the images climb out of the screens (or eventually even the shadows) and suck the souls out of the computer users, turning them into the world’s unhappiest bloggers. The soulless computer users spend a few days moping and then poof they disintegrate into ash.
Naturally, this perturbs both Mattie and Dexter and together our little sleuths try to find a way to stop the spread of the ashy virus and attempt to save the world from becoming overrun with legions of the dead, brought back to corporeal form through the computer and cell phone networks.
It Came from Beyond the Wi-Fi! Or Bandwidth Zombies. Or Virus.soulsuck.exe. Any of these would have been more entertaining titles than Pulse. Perhaps a way to draw crowds to this movie could be a rename Pulse contest, wherein the winner receives a first-season DVD of Veronica Mars and a lifetime supply of Sour Patch Kids. There is plenty of time while watching the grime-filled, poorly lit Pulse to do things like think up a new name for a movie or try to remember where you know Ian Somerhalder from (most recently, Boone on Lost). Though the movie slowly builds to encompass as its subject the End of Life as We Know It, Pulse is sullenly paced and takes forever to get through the initial college scenes to the far more interesting bits at its end, as though its mom forced it to go to the Apocalypse even though nobody cool is going to be there and Pulse totally wanted to stay home to watch the new season of Laguna Beach.
The meandering pace and the nonsensical science explaining a computer virus that could open a portal to the netherworld pretty much condemn Pulse to its forgettable-August-movie lot in life. But the always appealing Bell and the Wes Craven writing credit suggest that it need not have been this way. Another few passes at the script and a few espressos for the director could have resulted in something that at least could rise above this mediocrity. D
— Amy Diaz
Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com