Kairo (Pulse)

Written & Directed by Kurosawa Kiyoshi
Gerne: Horror
Runtime: 118 minutes
Country/Language: Japan/Japanese
Official Site, IMDb
Synopsis: A group of young friends is shaken by the unexpected suicide of one of their own and his subsequent nebulous reappearances. Soon they discover that there is a large number of lonely people, on-line, stranded from society that disappear in the same mysterious way, only to linger as ghastly projects of themselves.

Before any further comments, I must state that the director is unrelated to Akira Kurosawa and if you watch this film it would be more then obvious. Kairo, was released in 2001, just before J-Horror came to mass production. (Un)fortunately, the internet technology was very different then, dial-up modems, lagging, choppy video, etc. Thus, some of the technophobia is really outdated. Despite the low-budget and age of this film, everything seems in place, obviously because of the staffs' talent and hard work. CG-work and editing have done wonders for the very creepy special effects. Acting is also surprisingly good, avoiding the pompous styles popularized in Kyoto Area.

The story itself is unfolding slowly, which perfectly suits this type of film. It gives time to the audience to guess, think, but more importantly, feel the events unfolding. On the downside, the two main plotlines are very fickly connected near the end of the film by an apparently random event, in order to lead to the film's climax. But still having in mind the jokes for scripts the vast majority of modern horror and thrillers have, filled with plotholes, Kairo really shines with its coherence.

I must stress that this film is neither scary nor gory, it is though creepy, the metaphysical element springs from everyday events becoming itself casual and common (within the films myth). Also good use of lightning (actually, the lack of) and minimalistic shots give a very eerie feeling throughout the film. I heard and read many complains about it, but in my opinion horror is not about finding the killer or understanding the metaphysics proposed, it is though about experiencing a disconnection from reality and Kairo certainly achieves that.

I shouldn't forget to also mention that this film was distributed in the US in 2005! While in Europe it was around a couple of months after its original release in Japan (2001). As if this was not enough, in 2006 Hollywood made a remake, as the fad continues even today, which failed to capture the atmosphere of the original work, by simplifying the plot and putting in new and shinny special effects.

In conclusion, if you like slow and eerie films that play more on the emotional impact they have on the viewer, watch Kairo. If you prefer everything to be explained so even idiots can understand, crimson blood dripping from a a poor maidens lifeless body every other scene or to scare your teen girlfriend to get her laid, avoid it!