DECEMBER 23, 2008
If nothing else, I'll give Dimension this: they never beat you over the head with their DTV releases the way Lionsgate does. Even though I sorta kinda liked Pulse 2 and thus would be among the very few to care, I didn't even know that Pulse 3 was already on shelves. Wasn't it only two months ago? If they can release these back to back sequels so, well, back to back, then where the hell is Feast III?
Anyway, like 2, it's not so much that it's a completely terrible movie, but rather an OK one that's unfortunately terribly made. Luckily, the greenscreen use isn't as rampant (i.e. several scenes are filmed normally), and also director Joel Soisson has worked its usage into the actual narrative, such as placing closeups of an IM window behind the actress instead of a typical background. However, it's still there enough to distract away from whatever impact a scene may have had. It's impossible to concentrate on what the actors are saying or doing when your eye is constantly drifting to noticeable composite errors and laughable lighting differences. Also, they sure as hell didn't go all out when it came to making titles; I instantly recognized the default font/size for a Final Cut Pro title placeholder for "Seven Years Later" style captions.
Sadly, while it may be a small step up in the technical error, the story isn't as compelling (for lack of a better word) as the previous entry. While 2 had some minor suspense and the occasional exciting setpiece, this one focuses on a single character who does little more than just walk around for the entire movie. Everyone she runs into is a threat, but without anyone else on the 'good guys' team, these scenes aren't as suspenseful as they could be, because there is simply no way that our only protagonist is going to meet any harm until the final scene (if that). On the plus side, lead Brittany Finamore is insanely cute, so putting her in every single scene is probably more beneficial than detrimental. Still, this is possibly the only time in history that a sequel got a harsher rating for a far less violent film (the body count for the entire film, not counting people who are already ghosts, is like, two).
One thing that was kind of distracting was the complete lack of Jamie Bamber footage. Our lead is the little girl from 2, and while she keeps seeing her mother's ghost (the scene where she confronts her is probably the best in the film), her dad is completely MIA, even in the occasional flashback to 2. I assume Bamber footage would have cost too much to re-use, and this movie is clearly a budget production. Oh well. Instead, our top billed genre star is Rider Strong, despite only appearing in two scenes (one at the beginning, one at the end). Strong is fine in the cameo role (though he occasionally has a look on his face that seems to say "Hey, didn't I shoot a sequel to Cabin Fever like 2 years ago? What the hell happened to it??"), but why they would choose to give this hardly-big star top billing for 5 minutes of screentime is quite puzzling.
As before, Dimension has provided us with a making-of and a commentary track. The making of is pretty weak; it's about 8 minutes long and contains almost nothing that isn't revealed on the far more entertaining commentary, which is provided by Soisson, Finamore, producer Michael Leahy, and editor Kirk Morri. Finamore doesn't say much, but the others provide the best possible type of commentary for this type of movie: they're perfectly aware that it's not the best film in the world, and they take cracks at it and the previous films, but also provide some nice info on its production, things that were changed, issues with filming, etc. The best is when they non-ironically point out how the film does not have any strong primary colors beside red (I can imagine a casting call for extras: "PLEASE, do NOT wear anything green!"). Oddly, they keep mentioning a deleted scenes collection, but no such thing is present on the DVD. I would have liked to have heard them explain why, considering the obvious lack of funds, they didn't just make one decent Pulse sequel instead of kind of half-assed ones, but I'll take a wisecrack about Kristen Bell as a consolation prize. No trailer is included, which isn't surprising because it appears as if Dimension didn't even bother to cut one (I couldn't find one on Youtube, which was the extent of the research I was willing to put in in order to provide it at the end of the review).
So if you hated Pulse 2, you'll hate this one too. It's got some of the same problems, and it improves on some areas while getting worse on others, making it pretty much even in terms of overall quality. But if, like me, you saw Pulse 2 as a somewhat entertaining sequel to a pretty terrible movie, then you'll get as much (or as little) enjoyment out of this one too. Lazy Sunday, in the late afternoon, watch Pulse 3 just to... something, something rhymes with noon!
What say you?