Writer-director Joel Soisson and Dimension Extreme return to the world of Pulse for this second DTV sequel which was filmed back-to-back with the previous entry and arrives a mere three months later. And while it suffers from some of the problems its predecessor did, Pulse 3 does a better job of creating a few creepy moments and actually manages to nicely tie in elements from the previous film - making that sequel feel more fleshed-out than it did when I originally watched it.
Adam (Rider Strong) and Salwa (Noureen DeWulf) have a not-so-typical relationship. He lives in Ohio and she lives in Cairo. They carry on their relationship via the Internet and well-place web cams that allow them to spend almost every waking moment together. It almost seems too good to be true and, as it turns out, it actually is when Salwa discovers a viral website which proceeds to infect her with the electronically spread virus seen in the first two movies and leads her to commit suicide - while Adam watches on helpless on the other side of the Globe.
Seven years later, the virus has spread enough that humanity is hiding away in refugee camp-like dwellings living without the use of electricity, computers, or anything that might help the virus spread. Amongst them, in a Texas camp, is Justine (Brittany Finamore), who has now grown into a teenager after the events of the second film. Life in the camp is pretty bland but that soon changes when she finds a laptop in a burned out car. After turning it on, she's soon connected with Adam, who befriends her and convinces her to come to the big city.
Along the way she meets cotton farmer Wilkie (Thomas Merdis) and encounters various static-y ghosts - including Wilkie's wife, who's shotgun suicide eerily repeats when her husband brings her back using Justine's laptop. During this first two-thirds Soisson does manage to come up with a few striking shots, like when Justine gets knocked out going into Wilkie's door, and does okay tying loose ends together, but once he heads into the film's finale that's when Pulse 3 starts to stumble quite badly.
The first thing he does wrong is to bring back a character, in this case the nerdy electronics whiz, billed as "man with a plan", played by a returning Todd Giebenhain. He was a fairly throwaway character before but once Soisson throws in a sub-plot involving him trying to make an electro-magnetic pulse bomb for the government he just becomes annoying. And it all leads to a mediocre finale filled with poor attempts at creepy "I brought you back" moments.
Finamore doesn't fare too badly in the title role and the special effects are generally okay even if there's scenes that look like they were unnecessarily shot using a green screen (something the last movie did, which was an odd choice then and still is) but even they can't distract you from the fact you'll be wondering just how the original American remake of the Japanese film, Kairo, was successful enough to garner two sequels.
Even though Pulse 3 is definitely the best of the series, that doesn't particularly mean it's worth much of your time. If you're a fan of the previous entries, then you'll get more of the same here and while I admit I liked a few moments it wasn't nearly enough for me to forget about the whole thing not long after the credits rolled. (Chris Hartley, 1/10/09)
Directed By: Joel Soisson.
Written By: Joel Soisson.
Starring: Rider Strong, Brittany Finamore, Georgina Rylance, Todd Giebenhain.
Dimension Extreme/Genius - December 23, 2008
Picture Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen.
Picture Quality: The picture here is solid as it's clean of any sort of debris and generally grain free. It also handles the film's use of stark red colour well with no evident bleeding. Overall, Pulse 3 looks good on disc.
Extras: There's only a few things here to check out as we get an eight-minute "behind the scenes" featurette that feels like the EPK (electronic press kit) it probably was. We also get a commentary track featuring Soisson, Finamore, producer Mike Leahy, and editor Kirk Morri which is a breezy enough listen even if it doesn't hold your attention overly well.