Pulse 3
R1 - America - Dimension Extreme / Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (22nd January 2009).
The Film

The world of horror sequels and the world of regular sequels seem to operate in different territory. On one hand, the first horror film typically has a sizeable budget, never quite the blockbuster level, but that’s the studio advantage: horror can be made much more cheaply. While blockbuster sequels like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1985) or “The Dark Knight” (2008) are made for 40 to 180 plus million dollars, the entire “Saw” (2004-Present) franchise has been made for less than any of the "Indiana Jones" films. Even though this low budget has dramatically different results, the actual profit made off of the low budget horror sequel is fairly staggering, even when released to DVD. Sometimes the sequels are actually as good as or better than the first, like with “Saw II” (2005) though I seem to be in the minority with that, but other times it just degenerates into something like “Halloween: H20” (1998). So bearing in mind the moneymaking potential, it makes it easier to go into something like “Pulse 3” (2008) and take it with a grain of salt, as it definitely falls into the “H20” category in terms of a movie that just didn’t need to be made (though in no way should that be reason to link “Pulse” (2006) to “Halloween” (1978) as the first “Pulse” is terrible enough on it’s own).

“Pulse 3” connects to the first film in that it uses the same idea of ghosts escaping through computers to kill the living, but takes place somewhere around 10 years after the initial incident. People have now abandoned the cities and moved into small communities off the grid and out of reach from their ghostly computers. 17-year-old Justine (Brittany Finamore) still mourns for her dead mother and dreams of a world back in the city life, away from her foster family and hopefully back to her mother. So when she discovers a still functioning laptop that still mysteriously has internet access, she takes the advice of her new friend over instant messenger and decides to go back to Huston to try and reconnect with someone else.

It’s a little hard to say why this is on the 'Dimension Extreme' label other than the fact that they probably own the rights to all “Pulse” related films, remakes and sequels. There’s hardly any gore or even tension to justify such an extreme branding. Rather than aiming for any kind of creepy they’re gonna get you mentality, "Pulse 3" likes to think of itself as something more of a travel movie, just watching Justine move from one barren location to another barren location for a full hour and a half. The scariest part of the film was looking at the clock and realizing I still had an hour of the film left.

In terms of writing, acting and directing, there just isn’t much to say. The concept of the script could be interesting if the ghosts acted anything like the zombie hordes my imagination liked to optimistically conjure up, rather they just kind of appear and remind you that this is a “Pulse” movie, meaning ghosts and technology are bff’s. One of the weirdest and most fustrating choices of the film was the predominantly digital filming, probably 90 percent of the film was shot on green screen using still images as backdrops. It adds a level of artificiality that could get exploited for effect but just gets annoying after a little while, especially when you can see the feathering around the cutout of the character against the backdrop. If it had been more stylized or used differently it could have worked, but instead it just grated on my nerves. Similarly the writing is more grating than anything, Justine decides to trust her online pal and venture out, mysteriously getting internet access in the Texas desert, who knows maybe skynet is in effect and there’s internet everywhere.

Overall, “Pulse 3” simply isn’t an engaging or fun movie to watch, it feels like a ground out sequel trying to capitalize on bare bones production values and the title of a theatrical film with the hopes of grabbing some attention and gross product. Oh yeah, Rider Strong is in it too, but he’s really the only upside in terms of making me feel better that some “Boy Meets World” (1993-2000) alumni are getting acting jobs; though he was awesome in “Cabin Fever” (2003).

Video

The video is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the transfer looks fairly clean and the colors and lighting come through well, which is a plus, but when these are set against the green screen, still photo backgrounds it just gets annoying and awkward and makes the whole film seem lower quality.

Audio

The Audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio only, which sounds fine though a little flat. Most of the levels and balance come out properly, but the ambient sounds and the soundtrack come out really flat and don’t add a ton to the rest of the film.
There are also optional English and Spanish Subtitles.

Extras

The single disc is fairly bare, with only 2 special features, an audio commentary and a featurette, there's also some bonus trailers. These are all described below.

The audio commentary with writer/director Joel Soisson, producer Mike Leahy, actress Brittany Finamore and editor Kirk Morri does the usual job of talking about putting the film together though seems to suffer from too many awkward pauses when conversations die out. They talk about making the movie on green screen which is interesting in terms of how the film was put together, but there’s not much explanation behind any of it. The most frustrating part is that there are far too many times where they talk about things that they could talk about or things they thought about doing with the film, and that could be interesting, if that conversation wasn’t put off or derailed.

The making-of featurette “Pulse 3: Behind-the-Scenes” runs for 8 minutes and 27 seconds. The production designer, effects supervisor and other involved in the film talk over clips of the film explaining the basic plot and conceptual ideas behind the film. They talk a good bit about the only real gore scene in the film and do some good behind the scenes work on how the shotgun to the head was put together. An interesting enough featurette though fairly monotonous in terms of the variation of interviews and clips.

Bonus trailers include:

- “Pulse” runs for 2 minutes and 25 seconds.
- “Feast” runs for 2 minutes.
- “Pulse 2” runs for 20 seconds.
- “Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds” runs for 15 seconds.
- “The Wizard of Gore” runs for 1 minute and 29 seconds.
- “Diary of the Dead” runs for 2 minutes and 47 seconds.

Overall

The Film: F Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: D- Overall: D+