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Film / Pulse

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In every second of every day, it improves our lives. And in a flash, it can end them.

In this 1988 horror film, a highly aggressive, paranormal intelligence thriving within the electrical grid system of Los Angeles, California is moving from house to house. It terrorizes the occupants by taking control of the appliances, killing them or causing them to wreck the house in an effort to destroy it. Once this has been accomplished, it travels along the power lines to the next house, and the terror restarts. Having thus wrecked one household in a quiet, suburban neighborhood, the pulse finds itself in the home of a boy's divorced father whom he is visiting. It gradually takes control of everything, injuring the stepmother, and trapping father and son, who must fight their way out.

No relation to the 2001 Japanese horror film Kairo, known as Pulse in the West (and its American remake of the same name). It is equally unrelated to the 2015 horror game, or to superhero webcomic.

This film provides examples of:

  • Explosive Overclocking: Plenty. Even an electricity meter ends up overloading during the finale.
  • Eye Scream: Stevie relates a story of this happening to the dead neighbor's wife to David. However, with the way the child actor tells the tale, it comes across more as hilarious Narm than anything remotely scary:
    Stevie: She was washing the dishes, and she turned on the garbage disposal, and there was something stuck in it, it was this metal thing, it wasn't even a knife or a fork, it was some kind of metal thing, and when she turned it on, it shot that metal thing right up into her face! Shot it up just like a gun! Isn't that baaaaad? It shot it up right through her eyeball!
  • Failsafe Failure: All over the place. If something has enough electronics in it, it will fail spectacularly.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: A minor case of this in the climax, to avoid touching a flooded floor.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: What the titular Pulse is, for all means and purposes. It's never said where it came from or if it has any plans other than kill willy-nilly.
  • Trash the Set: Everything in the house is either smashed, set on fire, blown up or forced into meltdown by the end of the film, with the penultimate scene showing a slow-motion shot of part of a telegraph pole smashing through the house itself just to finish it off.
  • Truth in Television: While accelerated immensely, many of the component failures are accurate, showing the various electrical components expanding and bursting open and/or melting, which is a well known and documented result of component failure in electrical components.