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Pulse

This despite the starring presence of Kristen Bell, arguably the television successor to Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it comes to fighting bad guys. Unfortunately, the talented young actress has far less interesting material to work with here than she does as "Veronica Mars."

This remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 Japanese original ("Kairo") is fairly faithful in terms of its plot, which revolves around a group of teens traumatized by the suicide of one of their friends. It isn't long before he starts communicating with them from beyond the grave via their computers, as part of an increasingly malevolent virus that somehow manages to unleash ghosts from their spectral confines. The various characters, despite their efforts to protect themselves with such means as red masking tape, soon find themselves succumbing to a plague that produces black, ink-like stains all over their body before they finally disintegrate.

Predictably, director Jim Sonzero adopts a far more visceral style than the original, with loud noises and flashy visual effects taking over for Kurosawa's subtle creepiness. It is, as might also be expected, much faster paced, coming in at a brief, albeit seemingly interminable, 87 minutes.

The film has a distinctive if ultimately wearisome visual look, utilizing grainy images in a largely blue/gray color palette. The youthful cast, which also includes Ian Somerholder ("Lost") and music star Christina Milian, go through their paces with the requisite seriousness, and Ron Rifkin lends his usual gravitas as a helpful shrink. But by far the most entertaining performance comes from Brad Dourif, in a brief cameo as a doom-spouting crackpot.

Director: Jim Sonzero
Screenwriters: Wes Craven, Ray Wright
Producers: Anant Singh, Brian Cox, Michael Leahy, Joel Soisson
Executive producers: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Cinematographer: Mark Plummer
Editors: Bob Mori, Robert K. Lambert, Kirk Morri
Production designer: Gary Matteson
Music: Elia Cmiral
Cast:
Mattie: Kristin Bell
Dexter: Ian Somerhalder
Isabell: Christina Milian
Stone: Rick Gonzalez
Tim: Samm Levine
Dr. Waterson: Ron Rifkin
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