Shocking Saturday: Kairo (Pulse)

Japan is well-known for its creepy supernatural horror films, and one in particular that will have you running for the safety of your bed in the dark is the 2001 film Kairo.

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Kairo follows two different stories from the perspectives of citizens in Tokyo, whose lives begin to get entangled with a website that asks if you want to meet a ghost.
First we have three people whose friend has just committed suicide; they are anxious to find out the truth behind his sudden death, and a picture of him standing in his lounge with a ghostlike face in his computer screen only raises more questions.
Then we have Ryosuke who has recently bought a computer, for a reason which he really doesn’t know, and is introduced to the website unknowingly, which depicts people creepily standing, rolling and staring in front of their computers. His new friend Hurue is intrigued by it and asks to view it at his home – it all just seems like a harmless website until mass suicides begin to happen all over the city, figures appear to be there but really aren’t, black masses which whisper “help me” are stained to walls and why are there so many rooms being red taped shut all of a sudden?
The answer is much sinister than you could ever imagine. The ghouls are at work, and they have a plan for all of us.

The Japanese are well-known for their ghostly horror films such as Ringu and Ju-On: The Grudge; they always seem to bring a feeling of unease with them, which has you squirming in your seat at the thought of watching any more of the movie. Kairo is no exception. Although it begins rather slowly, and the acting appears slightly amateurish at times, as the film progresses it sucks you in when you start to discover more about the mysterious occurrences.
At one point, when you first see a spectre, all seems fine, and then suddenly the light lowers and a spine-tingling high-pitched woman’s voice begins to sing over the top of the low-bass pulsing. It not only has the characters screaming on-screen, but also you screaming at them to get out of the room. The music is not the only aspect which creates an uncomfortable atmosphere; the ominous colour scheme that is used makes the audience feel just as dreary as the characters do, and the simple yet scary way that the ghosts are presented, with disturbing movements, adds another layer of discomfort to us.

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Although the main story line is that spirits are crossing back over into our world through means that we would never expect and are subjecting us to a torture worse than death, there is also a secondary storyline throughout film; Kairo tries to teach its audience about the dangers of being lost in technology, and it touches on the themes of being alienated and isolated due to the internet, and that we are never really connecting with each other through using it.

The 2006 American remake called Pulse and starring Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder, did bring the simple premise to the screen, however it was simply a horror film rather than one to make you question your time with technological devices.

Through Kairo director Kiyoshi Kurosawa brings a whole new terrifying concept to our thoughts about the afterlife.

Tag Line: Do You Want To Meet A Ghost?

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆

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