Pulse

The latest creep-out by one of Japan's most intriguing directors, Kiyoshi Kurosawa (whose 1997 thriller Cure only recently was released in the US), Pulse doesn't have an American distributor yet, but for those of you surfing around for a review, here it is.

Though my old roommate found it derivative of some Japanese comic book, I don't know from those things, so I enjoyed it a great deal. I think it's Kurosawa's finest work thus far. The plot concerns a group of college students in Tokyo who start seeing ghosts over the Internet - and in sparse, industrial "forbidden rooms" - and the experience causes many of the students to kill themselves or disappear mysteriously. Gradually it appears that death is spreading across Japan as a sort of virus. Not that there's anything our hapless young characters can do about it.

A horror film without gore, schlocky effects, or stock "Boo!" tactics, Pulse slowly gets right under your skin and stays there. It's one of the most unsettling films I've seen this year, with dark, spooky atmosphere to spare - as well as a genuinely-felt message about people's increasing isolation in a society where everybody is connected to the Internet but unable to connect with each other. A fine effort from Japan's answer to David Lynch.