Month of horror continues with "The Pulse"

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For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today’s film tackles evil cell phones in “Pulse.”

As someone who thoroughly enjoys all things technology, it’s sad for me that it really gets dragged through the mud in movies. Hollywood apparently can’t imagine that technology could be used to benefit mankind. Instead it’s the oh-so-typical “technology is going to oust humans and take over the world” bit again and again. In the 2006 film, “Pulse,” technology once again takes center stage as the source of mankind’s downfall.

“Pulse” is a remake of a 2001 Japanese film, with a few updates to reflect the advances in wireless technology we saw between the two movies’ respective releases. In the American remake, a young computer hacker unleashes a virus, creating a gateway that allows spirits of the dead to enter the real world through electronics. The film is centered on Josh’s girlfriend, Mattie (Kristen Bell), and Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) as they try to cut off communication with the dead and stop the invasion.

The film has some great “gotcha” moments, impressive visual effects and is possibly scarier today than when it was released because of the further integration of our mobile devices into our everyday lives. The scene where Dexter and Mattie find the main server where the virus is being stored is especially breathtaking. I legitimately didn’t want to reboot my computer for the rest of the night. Co-writer Wes Craven certainly pulls out every well-known horror film trick in the book and at times, the movie can feel a bit cliche. The characters are never completely developed nor does the plot feel completely coherent, but there is enough excitement to keep you mostly distracted from these shortcomings.

While the odds of the events in this movie occurring are very slim, the overall theme of the film is extremely relevant to college students growing up in the digital age. The film points to how the advent of communication technology can create a great disconnect between those it was meant to bring together. The spirits use the time people spend staring at their computer screens to create a feeling of complete loneliness. While this obviously takes it to an extreme, there certainly is something depressing about staring into the abyss that is your Facebook newsfeed for hours on end. Probably not enough to make you hang yourself with an Ethernet cord, but you get the idea.

What “Pulse” lacks in cinematic excellence, great plot and character development, it makes up for with jump-moments and a relatively unique concept. And if you’re looking for something that will scare you into spending less time procrastinating online, then this movie is for you.