News Archive... AKA The Old Blog

Monday, August 14, 2006

'Pulse' fails to quicken

There are no more loyal fans than those horror fiends, the gorehounds. They lovingly cherish even the most rank cinematic terror turds.

This weekend I had the rare opportunity to witness back-to-back the wide spectrum of horror product currently being churned out. Two movies, about a year old, one made a year ago and released in the UK to great acclaim, the other made a year ago and shelved as per studio (Dimension) policy.

The first is The Descent, a harrowing nightmare about a group of cave-diving women who literally descend into hell, falling victim to a race of hairless, pasty underground mole-people with an appetite for human innards (i.e., a metaphor for the destructive nature of men in these women's lives). Directed with a wheelbarrow-down-hill pace by Neil Marshall and scored by David Julyan, The Descent is truly top-notch horror filmmaking. I actually thought to myself while watching: "This is a real horror movie with a real horror movie score!" No synth loops, no atmospheres, no recording the orchestra and mixing it back in reverse. No gimmicks! Just pure orchestral terror.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Pulse, the Wes Craven scripted remake of a J-horror "classic". From the opening scene -- a bar filled with college students, each and every one on some kind of cellphone or PDA -- you have to scream, "Okay, I get it -- we're all dependant on these technologies and it will be our doom!" Pulse is an horror film about the internet presumably made by people who have never used the internet. We're told a virus has been scripted to destroy a ghost permeating into our world from newly discovered frequencies. What we are never told is why our female lead's friends start to disappear one by one and all anyone can do is ask "Hey have you seen so and so?" "No, he didn't come to class today". Someone then will dial a cellphone, someone won't answer. No one actually gets off their ass to actually check in on that person.

Elia Cmiral's score isn't much better. Generating few thrills, it's the manipulated orchestra variety that seems to be appearing more often in horror pictures (Stay Alive was one recent example). Cmiral's synths and drones just add to the disconnect Pulse has with it's audience. This is disappointing because Cmiral's Wrong Turn was a solid horror score that effectively essayed the bumpkin terrors onscreen.

The Descent is now on CD from Cooking Vinyl.