Ghosts in the Internet trigger the Apocalypse in "Pulse," a dumbed-down remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's disturbingly abstract Japanese horror film. Auds, however, may be scared away from screens based on early poor word-of-mouth, leaving generally ghostly opening frame B.O. Ancillary will rescue this item from oblivion.

Ghosts in the Internet trigger the Apocalypse in “Pulse,” a dumbed-down remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s disturbingly abstract Japanese horror film. Though planned as a project for Wes Craven (who now has co-scripter credit with Ray Wright), pic is helmed by relative newcomer Jim Sonzero, who displays only the slightest grasp of what it takes to scare auds. Audiences, however, may be scared away from screens based on early poor word of mouth, leaving generally ghostly opening frame B.O. Ancillary will rescue this latest Craven-Dimension item from oblivion.

“Pulse” marks the latest and least successful attempt to Americanize a fundamentally Japanese horror movie subgenre. While the originals (Kurosawa’s film, the “Ringu” series and/or “Dark Water”) carry direct ties from the ancient Nippon tradition of ghost myths, the Yank redos feel like crass opportunities to cash in on someone else’s good idea.

That’s certainly the case here, where eerily translucent and sometimes creepily digitized ghosts (in TV sets, computers, bedroom closets) emerge to wreak havoc.

University computer hacker Josh (Jonathan Tucker) confronts a ghoulish white creature while working in the campus library that unfortunately looks far too much like the white critters stalking the female cavers in “The Descent.”

When on-again-off-again g.f. Mattie (Kristen Bell) goes to his pad, Josh hangs himself.

The creepy B&W web images that Josh received over his computer now start appearing on Mattie’s computer and on the computers of pals Stone (Rick Gonzalez), Tim (Sam Levine) and Mattie’s roomie Isabell (Christina Milian).

Stone volunteers to check out Josh’s hacking work, which naturally means that he’s the next victim. His body is taken over (a la “The X-Files”) by a black inky substance that turns him to ash.

Unlike Kurosawa’s storytelling choices, which stressed a distended grasp of time and an atmospheric sense of dread that couldn’t quite be pinned down, the new “Pulse” takes everything literally and is most concerned with turning Mattie into a blonde hottie in distress.

When Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) is awkwardly introduced as the unlucky recipient of Josh’s computer, Mattie has a new partner to help her unravel the mystery.

Although the ultimate cause of the ghost invasion is blamed on electronic devices, the neo-Luddite theme that one should be frightened by what comes over the Web will strike most of pic’s target aud as phony scare tactics. Not even a few genuinely spectacular images of mass Apocalypse make up for the pure thematic silliness.

Cast of largely young tube thesps works up a sweat in the curiously grimy setting but none do more than the basic strokes. Mark Plummer’s desaturated lensing verges on black-and-white, but even this element imitates such recent remakes as the Walter Salles-directed “Dark Water.”

Rumbling from the soundtrack is as scary as pic gets, while creature effects quickly grow boring and repetitive. Romania provided primary locations, with additional Stateside production work.

Pulse

Production

A Weinstein Co. release of a Dimension Films presentation of a Distant Horizon production in association with Neo Art & Logic. Produced by Anant Singh, Brian Cox, Michael Leahy, Joel Soisson. Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein. Directed by Jim Sonzero. Screenplay, Wes Craven, Ray Wright, based on the movie "Kairo" written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor, Arri widescreen), Mark Plummer; editors, Bob Mori, Robert K. Lambert, Kirk Morri; music, Elia Cmiral; production designers, Gary Matteson, Cristian Niculescu; art directors, Sorin Popescu (Romania), Jodi Ginnever; set decorators, Ermanno Di Febo-Orsini, Adi Curelea; costume designer, Irene Bilo; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Tibi Borcoman (Romania), Larry Scharf, Gary Day (U.S.); sound designers, Steven Ayala, Peter Lago; supervising sound editor, Trip Brock; visual effects supervisor, Kevin O'Neill; visual effects, Neo Digital, Livewire Prods., Engine Room, C-TRL Labs, I.C.O. Entertainment, The Orphanage; make-up effects, Gary J. Tunnicliffe; stunt coordinators, Attila Nemes (Romania), Hiro Koda (U.S.); line producer, Ronald Cosmo Vecchiarelli; associate producer, Stephen Maloney; assistant directors, Cristi Ciurea (Romania), Eric A. Pot, Benjamin Rosenberg (U.S.); casting, Mary Vernieu, Monika Mikkelsen. Reviewed at Bruin Theater, Los Angeles, Aug. 11, 2006. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Mattie - Kristen Bell Dexter - Ian Somerhalder Stone - Rick Gonzalez Professor Cardiff - Zach Grenier Douglas - Kel O'Neill Tim - Sam Levine Landlady - Octavia L. Spencer Dr. Waterson - Ron Rifkin Isabell - Christina Milian Josh - Jonathan Tucker
With: Brad Dourif.

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