"You can't stop the invasion." -- Pulse 3
Well, I've gone and done it. I'm not one who normally comes up with New Year's resolutions, but I'm making an exception here. From now on, I'm going to do my darnedest to stay clear of any film written and/or directed by Joel Soisson. You would think after over twenty years in the filmmaking business, the man would have actually learned some valuable tricks of the trade by now and climbed his way out of the B-movie gutter. Yet for some strange reason he's still stuck in the quagmire of awful direct-to-DVD sequels. I've ranted about this back in October when I covered his atrocious Pulse 2: Afterlife, and I'm ranting about again now after sitting through the slightly worse (and hopefully final) conclusion to the franchise. It's almost as if the original plan was one sequel at first and then at the very last minute someone did a hack job in order to turn out a trilogy. That's really the only explanation I can fathom for this mess.
"Pulse 3" takes place roughly a decade after the horrific events that unfolded in the first half-baked sequel. Justine (Brittany Renee Finamore) is now a teenager living with her foster family in one of the safety zones. Still haunted by the ghosts of her past and thanks to the ban on electronics placed on her new environment, Justine has grown frustrated with her surroundings and is practically crawling out of her skin trying to find ways to occupy her time.
One evening while exploring a junkyard, Justine discovers an old abandoned laptop tucked inside the skeleton of a car--and this is where the film starts to derail. Justine presses the power button, and lo and behold she fires the computer up without a hitch. Well I'll tell you this, the motherboard just went on my laptop not too long ago, and I was forced to pull out a spare one I have in the closet. It had only been sitting there for two maybe three years tops, but when I tried to start the machine the battery was completely dead. Now, the film doesn't actually specify how long the computer was lying in its dormant state, but the way it was hidden and covered in dust it gave the impression that it had been there for a long, long time.
It just gets worse from there. Even though Justine has been raised knowing full well that the digital ghosts use wireless frequencies as a means of travel to our realm--which is why the safety zones have a permanent ongoing ban on computers, cell phones, and the like--the next thing she does is try to get online to see if the crisis is finally over. Justine roams the outskirts of town with the laptop in hand searching for a signal to get connected, and happens to find one in the middle of nowhere.
But wait, there's more! When Justine gets online, she starts chatting with a stranger named Adam via instant messenger and the two hit it off. Adam also tells Justine that everything is hunky dory over in Houston, so she decides to run away and see for herself. But first, she needs a power supply so that she can charge the laptop and keep conversing with Adam on her journey. Naturally, she scours the junkyard and finds one with the right jack and correct wattage for her newfound toy. Wouldn't it have been easier and more logical to have her find the power supply *with* the laptop? That's where I keep mine, but maybe that's just me.
Justine wanders the rest of the movie towards Houston slower than an ancient sloth with arthritis, taking a break now and then to chat with Adam along the way. And just like a lost puppy, the mysterious WiFi signal manages to follow her wherever she goes for crying out loud. I highly doubt these scripts were typed up on a telegraph machine or a typewriter in today's technological age, so there's really no rhyme or reason for this ignorance of common sense. If the entire basis of your plot rides on a computer, then the least you can do is get your facts straight and do research if you don't know how things work. This isn't being lazy anymore like I suggested in my first review. It's downright incompetent.
I reserved this paragraph to go off on another tirade about the excessive overuse of green screens that have almost as much screen time as the WiFi signal blanketing all of Texas, but I think I'd rather save everyone (including myself) some grief and end it here. If anyone cares, you can read my previous review to get the full scoop. It's the same deal.
I'm assuming the Weinsteins decided to release "Pulse 3" under their Dimension Extreme label since they gave "Pulse 2: Afterlife" the same treatment, but I didn't see anything extreme about this film. Aside from a ghost stuck in a loop repeatedly blowing off her head with a shotgun and a very brief cameo of a phantom's boob, the whole movie was rather tame. It felt like false advertising, and now it will make me approach future releases under the brand with extreme caution.
"Pulse 3" mimics its "Pulse 2: Afterlife" counterpart with an anamorphic widescreen picture presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The exterior shots in direct sunlight are actually quite clear and striking, but the majority of the film is dark and murky with a color palette that's heavily muted and subdued. If it was done this way to mask the green screen annoyance, it didn't help.
The film's audio comes in a single Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is on par with "Pulse 2: Afterlife." Overall it's pretty decent, although there wasn't much here to write home about, either. Also included are optional English and Spanish subtitles.
Apparently the studio didn't think much of this release, either, and therefore only a couple of bonuses trickle onto the DVD.
First we have a "Feature Commentary By Writer/Director Joel Soisson, Producer Mike Leahy, Actress Brittany Finamore, and Editor Kirk Morri." Soisson commandeers the microphone and gives the others the odd chance to chime in when he tires of hearing himself speak.
"Pulse 3: Behind-the-Scenes" (8:27) is a short "making of" featurette of sorts, although I don't feel comfortable labeling it as such. Basically it's just a few comments from the filmmakers with some additional footage thrown in for good measure. The only interesting part was hearing the (albeit brief) real-life history behind the incidental character Bluesman (Robert "One String" Gibson).
There's also a string of forced trailers on startup: "Pulse," "Pulse 2: Afterlife," "Feast," "Feast II: Sloppy Seconds," "The Wizard of Gore," and "George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead."
Just like "Pulse 2: Afterlife," "Pulse 3" comes housed in an attractive foil-embossed slipcover. Next time instead of pimping out the DVD packaging, put this money to better use—like, oh I don't know… perhaps the film's budget?
The Final Cut:
It's unthinkable that any film with the word "Pulse" in the title could come right out of the gate practically dead on arrival, but that's exactly what we have here. The initial film wasn't all that popular to begin with, and the two sequels take the prize for the blandest horror movies I've ever seen. I just can't in good conscience recommend "Pulse 3," since all it is really is the latter and duller half of a three-hour borefest.