This is a review of the original Japanese version of Kairo / Pulse. For a review of the 2005 USA remake, click here.
Written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001, 119 min. starring
Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Aso, Koyuki, Kenji Mizuhashi, Kurume
Arisaka, Masatoshi Matsuo, Show Aikawa, Jun Fubuki, Shinji Takeda
and Yakusho Koji.
One of 2001's most eagerly anticipated films among the online Japanese
Horror community was Kaïro (also known as Pulse,
although a more accurate translation is Circuit), directed
by Kiyoshi Kurosawa who first made his name with Cure
(aka Kyua), a brilliant psychological thriller, and directed
the less well-known but critically well-received Kourei
(aka Séance), and Charisma (aka Karisuma),
a kind of partial sequel/follow-up to Cure.
is one of the most popular movies among Japanese New Wave cinema
aficionados; powerful, profound philosophy lurks under the depths
of a modern, almost incomprehensible horror tale of the Internet.
Popular interest was initially sparked by the film's mysterious
"Ghost-site" which mirrored one of the main themes of
the movie, but which has now sadly disappeared.
is an incredible film which I know has given some of my friends
nightmares after watching it. If you enjoyed the gore-free, fear-laden,
chilling atmosphere of Ring, you'll love Kaïro.
"Would you like to meet a ghost?"
is based around two parallel stories: the strange events taking
place among the employees of a Tokyo plant sales company, and similar
happenings in the life of a young economics student, Kawashima Ryosuke
(played by Haruhiko Katô).
film opens with a young woman, Kudo Michi (Kumiko Aso, who also
starred in Ring 0), who is trying to track down one of the
employees at the small plant sales company she also works in, Taguchi
(Kenji Mizuhashi), who has gone missing for a few days. Their boss
is waiting for Taguchi to provide him with a work file for the company's
computer. Michi goes to Taguchi's apartment and finds him there,
seemingly normal. She picks up the work file from his computer desk;
however, when she goes into the next room to thank him for the disk,
she finds him dead against the wall, having hanged himself while
she was looking for the work disk.
other employees of the company, Sasano Junko (Kurume Arisaka) and
Toshio Yabe (Masatoshi Matsuo), are obviously also very shaken up
by this unexpected suicide, and suspect that something strange is
happening. When Yabe runs the so-called work disk in the company's
computer, the disk connects him to a weird website, which shows
a picture of Taguchi's computer desk, with the figure of Taguchi
next to the desk, hiding in the shadows. Even more strangely, on
Taguchi's computer is a picture of the whole scene, receding into
infinity. The two women are frightened by this, and so Yabe decides
in another part of the city, Kawashima is trying to connect to the
Internet for the first time. A self-avowed computer-hater and novice,
he installs the dial-up software with difficulty. However, he is
baffled when the computer gives him all kinds of error messages,
and then proceeds to dial him up and connect him to the same odd
website. This time, though, the site shows him a different room,
with more shadowy, indistinct figures making repetitive motions
in it. A message appears on the screen: "Would you like
to meet a ghost?" He is scared and confused by this turn
of events, and turns off the computer in a hurry.
in the middle of the night, while he is asleep, the computer turns
itself back on and dials up the Net, going straight to the odd website
all by itself. The modem sound wakes him up, and he panics and throws
the computer off the desk.
next day, Kawashima decides to go the next day to the Computer Science
faculty of his university to ask about the strange website. There,
he meets a young IT student, Karasawa Harue (played by Koyuki),
who gives him instructions to help him track down the source of
the website, fearing it could be a hacker using his PC to dial up
the site. As they work together to try and find out about the weird
site, Harue and Kawashima are drawn to each other.
Unknown to Kawashima, Harue and the plant sales employees, people
all over Tokyo are finding the ghost-site, and becoming addicted
to it for unknown reasons.
the meantime, Yabe goes to Taguchi's apartment to try and find out
what has happened to him, and what the mysterious floppy disk is
all about. While he's there, he is drawn into the room where Taguchi
committed suicide, and thinks he sees him there, standing in the
shadows. But on closer investigation, Yabe finds that the figure
is in reality a black, ashen silhouette, left on the wall where
Taguchi hanged himself, in the exact same shape as Taguchi when
the bottom of Taguchi's apartment block, Yabe sees a mysterious
room, the door taped up with red construction tape. He investigates
the room, and what happens inside destroys him
her way home from work, at the same time as Yabe is in Taguchi's
apartment block, Michi passes by the house of a middle-aged woman
who lives opposite an abandoned factory, and watches her hurriedly
taping up her front door with a roll of red construction tape. The
next day, when she is returning home again from her job, the same
woman jumps from the top of the factory building and kills herself
in front of her
the other side of the city, Harue introduces Kawashima to a computer
graduate student, Yoshizaki (Shinji Takeda) who seems to know what
is happening with the weird website, and tells Kawashima his own
hypothesis about ghosts, computers and humanity in general
but why have the residents of Tokyo suddenly begun to tape up their
doors and windows with red tape? And why have so many people disappeared
or committed suicide? Michi, Junko, Yabe, Harue and Kawashima are
all swept into the mysterious world of the Circuit from which there
is no escape for anyone
or is there?
this film, Kurosawa creates a dark, harrowing atmosphere based on
a painful philosophy: that all humans live alone, and remain alone
after death. There are no happy endings, no bright future, and that
even the closest community of people can never truly connect
not on the Internet, not among friends, and not even within families.
Each person is an individual, and deep within each individual is
a bottomless pit of loneliness that never ends.
is a true masterpiece: cinematography that is so dark, surreal and
murky it makes your eyes hurt; potent and resonant imagery that
weighs heavy on the mind long after seeing it; no shocks, but instead
deep, dead chills that make the viewer have to consider the central
philosophy of the film and fear for the future. An awesome, totally
Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: 9/10
Bafflement Rating: needs watching more than 4 times
Scare Factor: 11/10
Haunted Computers: 11/10
You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2002
You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600]
Wallpaper credit: Larry Burns, 2003
aren't a huge amount of sites or pages dedicated to Kairo
- the fantastic official site is now gone and there's just a few
reviews etc dotted around.
- the official website dedicated to Haruhiko Kato - beautiful design
and lots of great features (in Japanese)
- decent French review with pictures
- another review in French, following the film winning the critic's
prize at Cannes in 2001
- in Japanese. Coverage of the Japanese premiere.
- review in English