You know what I hate more than American remakes of Asian horror movies? Sequels to American remakes of Asian horror movies -- like Pulse 2: Afterlife. Essentially, it's the job of these films to copy a copy, repeating the general structure of a movie that's a repeat itself. In 2006, Pulse aped a bad enough film to begin with, but this hastily thrown-together sequel is in an even sorrier state, coughing up a plate of pathetic scares while maintaining a laughably smug sense of self-importance.
Pulse 2 picks up some time after its predecessor's apocalyptic events. Ghosts have long since exploited their ability to cross over into the land of the living via wireless communication, their numbers greatly outranking those still breathing. In the aftermath of this chaos, Stephen (Jamie Bamber) is searching desperately for his young daughter Justine (Karley Scott Collins). Once reunited, the pair get the heck out of Dodge and head towards the wilderness for refuge from the otherworldly menace that's taken over the cities. But also in hot pursuit of the two is Michelle (Georgina Rylance), Stephen's estranged and highly unstable ex wife. The problem? Michelle happens to be a ghost herself, and nothing, not even losing her life, is going to stop her from reclaiming Justine at any cost.
The trouble with Pulse 2 involves its failure to live and let live. Its bloodline dictates it be looked at more seriously than other second-rate chillers, something neither I nor the filmmakers themselves have the energy to do. The original Japanese version of Pulse (or Kairo, for you cine-snobs out there) was an atmospheric and visually unsettling picture; it was also an absolute chore to watch. Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa steadfastly refused to have fun, too occupied with making a statement to realize what a bleak and depressing mess Kairo became. The 2006 Pulse was even worse for wear, having more or less covered Kairo's ground but unsuccessfully gearing it toward the MTV Generation.
Now we come to Pulse 2, the unholy love child of two half-hearted storytelling agendas. On the one hand, you have a low-maintenance mindset, one that would love nothing more than to scare the kiddies and be on its merry way. But then there's a nagging little gremlin who wants to carry on Kurosawa's idea of equating the ghosts with how technology has distanced mankind from itself. The result, dear reader, is nothing short of pure schizophrenia, a film nowhere near as fun or smart as it thinks it is. Pulse 2 just exists, contributing absolutely nothing of value over the course of its 90 patience-testing minutes.
Aside from a cool angle showing how the ghosts see the world, absolutely nothing inventive is done with the story here. The movie settles into a dull routine of the characters running, having a ghost show up, rinsing, and repeating. Pulse 2 appears miserably misguided when it comes to serving up scares, throwing in a bit of gratuitous gore and nudity when the story would've worked without it. Watching this film ends up being as joyless as can be. The actors' boredom shows on their faces, and the film's budgetary restraints are evident in the way half the movie was shot in front of a green screen (often laughably obvious to boot).
Unless you're one of the poor, unfortunate souls who enjoyed the first Pulse, this sequels boasts about as much entertainment value as a boot to the face.
MY RATING: * (out of ****)
(Released by Dimension Home Entertainment and rated "R" for violence, disturbing images, some sexuality, nudity.)