Contemporary Japanese horror is a curious brew, partaking of a venerable tradition of atmospheric ghost story but typically grounded in the material world of technology. Pulse locates the latest version of a restless afterlife in the vast ether of the Web. Hapless surfers find grainy video of what appear to be the recently departed, and soon they are at risk of disappearing themselves. Drifting along like a derelict ship, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s film accumulates a potent spiritual claustrophobia far out of proportion to any events that occur. Here, the calm is the storm. Sure, there are a few horrific encounters with some form of undead. But more unnerving are details like a computer room that slowly gets overgrown with wires, or the characters’ post-primitive ritual of sealing spiritual-portal doors with red tape. This is a dread less pointed than terror and closer to a throbbing, apocalyptic emptiness.
Opens November 9 at IFC Center