Appellate Judge Tom Becker scores it Pulse 3, Audience 0.
You can't stop the invasion.
Just as night must fall and day must break, cheesy American rip-offs of Japanese horror movies must suck, and their uninspiringly inspired sequels must suck worse. Thus, for a film like Pulse 3, which is a second sequel to a blasé Americanization of a superior J-horror, our expectations are barely existent.
At first, I was concerned that I hadn't seen the first two entries in the Pulse trilogy. Would it be appropriate—or even fair—to start my Pulse education with the series' Return of the Jedi? Wouldn't there be plot points and nuances and in-jokes that would just go over my head?
Nah, everything you need to know is laid out in a nine-minute prologue, explained in a few speeches, and referenced every three or four minutes. Technology went bad, and an evil techno virus caused a wave of suicides—kinda like what M. Night Schyamalan tried to feed us in The Happening, only not as green.
Since the world is tech dependent, this amounted to some kind of apocalypse, paving the way for Pulse 3 to be set in a post-apocalyptic world. Here, all roads from the post-apocalypse lead to Cannery Row, as the world-after-technology has a decidedly Depression-era look and feel. No leather and studs for these hardy survivors; everyone has morphed into Okies.
One day, disenchanted and disenfranchised teen survivor Justine (Brittany Finamore) happens upon an ancient laptop. Mind you, the techno-apocalypse was a mere seven years prior, but since laptops automatically become ancient once they leave the store shelves, this one qualifies. Confoundedly, the thing immediately boots up—it's obviously not running a Windows platform—and connects Justine to the Internet. Since Justine is a nubile 17-year-old, it just follows that her first encounter with the Internet has a dirty-minded older guy making Whoopee talk to her. She finds herself so excited by his smutty chatroom banter that she sets out across the wasteland to find him.
While Justine thinks she's setting out to find her prince, we know that the flashy emoticon man is none other than cheapie horror film mainstay Rider Strong (Cabin Fever, Borderland, Tooth and Nail). One of the lone survivors of Boy Meets World plays one of the lone survivors of the techno apocalypse, and his goofy charm serves him better in the tech-heavy prologue than it does later when he attempts a more ambiguous character.
The rest of the film is pretty much Justine's trek, which could have been a cool Little Red Riding Hood kind of riff but isn't. Here and there, it looks promising, including a Black Snake Moan meets The Wizard of Oz-like encounter with a guy who tries to contact his dead wife using Justine's rare laptop. Beyond that, the journey is not particularly scary or interesting, just some forced-feeling quirkiness played out amongst green-screen settings. Demons pop up for no particular reason, and they don't really do anything. There's some talk about being eaten, but it never goes anywhere. Characters ramble incoherently, plot points are introduced randomly, and a "twist" ending is rushed and meaningless.
The disc looks all right, with a clear image. Audio is more problematic, with dialogue occasionally difficult to hear, but there are subtitles. For extras, you get a bland "making of" and a commentary that's informative enough if you're really interested in knowing more about this film.
Pulse 3 is not the worst straight-to-DVD multigenerational sequel to an already poor film, but it's not exactly a revelation, either.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Dimension Films
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