This week's title is Paul Golding's 1988 “shocker” Pulse.
When David (Joey Lawrence) comes to stay with his father and stepmother, he starts to suspect something dangerous is going on with the power on his street.
Unlike many instances of coverbox art, you actually get what is advertised. Well, sort of. No one gets electrocuted onscreen, but we do get a lot of electricity. Like a lot, lot. And I hope you like extended shots of electronics because we get to see inside, outside, close-up and far away. It's like electronics porn actually.
Aside from that the pace is pretty deliberate, but the acting is good all around with both Joey and Matthew Lawrence are in this movie. I never watched Blossom, Boy Meets World or any of the other shows they were in, but here they were solid little kid actors.
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So, Pulse was a bit weird for a few reasons. First, the ambiguity of the antagonist was a little off-putting. Electricity was out to get people, but there's no concrete how or why to it. In Maximum Overdrive, it was a comet and in Ghost in the Machine it was a short circuited serial killer – which coincidentally starred Karen Allen who appears on the TV during this movie – but apart from Crazy Ralph's brother rambling out about a “pulse”, there's really no rhyme or reason for things to going haywire. It's kind of like when the sleazy guy from Fast Times in Ridgemont High showed up to fix the television, but seemed to have no idea how electricity even worked. But whatever, I'm game. I guess I'm just used to Horace Pinker crackling out the wall sockets, ya know?
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Secondly, Pulse actually functioned more like a family drama than a horror film, as the main push of the story was a kid adjusting to splitting time between two divorced parents. Obviously, there were a lot of cliches at work here, like David's crazy stories about killer electricity being perceived as him acting out, but there were actually some sincere interactions throughout. Pulse would have been fairly straightforward if not for the garbage disposal occasionally trying to kill someone. And I do have to admit, this movie did feature one of the most painful looking “locked in the shower” scene that I've seen.
Pulse was a solid movie, but it's PG-13 nature's probably the reason that it doesn't end up on too many “best of” or “you've never seen” lists.