13. Pulse (2001, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Honestly out of all of the movies on this list I was really freaked out by Pulse the most. The film exists in those quiet lonely spaces where you don’t think anything will happen, and when the ghosts finally appear and take aim at your soul, draining your existence and slowly bringing you into the darkness you realize its too late to scream or run. The fact that this movie was made in 2001 around the tech boom makes it all the more relevant, and the rise of social media, blogs and message boards has me wondering what this film would possibly be like now. T.S. Elliot famously said “This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.” Without saying more I will note that Pulse in a way fulfills that eerie quotation, especially as the film’s victims are slowly destroyed by the very technology they embraced.
Especially since the character’s alienation and lack of connection with real people because of technology and computers is what starts the entire chain in motion in the first place. Society crumbles and breaks down as people fail to be in touch with actual people-talking to them, interacting with them in person, going beyond the technological walls they imprisoned themselves in. Pulse is as much a tragedy as it is a horror movie, for the loss of humanity and one’s soul is far worse than actual death itself. You power up your large glowing machine, listening to its strange hum and log onto your favorite website. Only then do the ghosts begin to whisper and echo in your mind, filtering themselves through your ears and into your brain. When you finally realize what is happening, its already too late. That is the genesis of Pulse.