The remake of the J-Horror film Pulse was released in 2006, marking the end of the first era of Western studios’ fascination with Asian horror. Japanese horror films, such as Ring and Dark Water, gained popularity in the early 2000s thanks to the availability of DVDs from publishers like Tartan. As a result, Hollywood began remaking these films.
The Ring and Dark Water were successful remakes that captured the essence of the original films, although they lacked some of the dread and atmosphere. However, as time went on, the quality of J-Horror remakes declined. The underwhelming remake of Pulse, one of J-Horror’s most sophisticated and haunting movies, ultimately killed off the J-Horror remake era.
The original Pulse, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, may not have gained as much recognition as films like Audition and Ring, but it is just as important. The movie examines the early internet and personal isolation, blending technology and folklore in a bleak yet beautiful way. The remake, on the other hand, abandons the original’s ambiguity and subtext in favor of a more straightforward and condescending approach. The remade Pulse is like a condensed version of the original, sacrificing the methodical and artful haunting for jump scares and flashy imagery.
Initially, Wes Craven was set to write and direct the remake, but his screenplay was heavily altered, leading him to distance himself from the final product. Jim Sonzero took over as the director, despite having no prior experience directing a feature film. Interestingly, his next project after Pulse was directing a video game.
The remake of Pulse featured Kristen Bell, Rick Gonzalez, Ian Somerhalder, and Johnathan Tucker. Unfortunately, their talent is wasted due to the poorly written script and incoherent style of the film.
While remakes can never replace the original, other J-Horror films received more respectful remakes compared to Pulse. Ironically, this version of Pulse captures the despair and disappointment of Kurosawa’s film in its own way.
In conclusion, the remake of Pulse marked the decline of Western studios’ interest in remaking Asian horror films. Although the original Pulse was a somber and methodical examination of technology and isolation, the remake traded its depth for cheap scares and flashy visuals. The wasted potential of the remake and its divergence from the original captures the essence of the film in an ironic manner.