Some years ago, Hollywood felt the urge to produce remakes to successful asian horror films, polishing them and making them more consumable for Western audiences. They did that with The Ring, Dark Water and also with the Japanese genre entry Pulse from the year 2001. The remake came in 2006 and the script was even written by horror maestro Wes Craven. He initially also wanted to direct the film which stalled for a while after producer Bob Weinstein wanted to cancel the project altogether since he thought the premise was too similar to The Ring. He should have considered the low quality that was to be expected, instead.
It’s always a problem when films play with dangers that are closely tied to the technology of the time. It develops at such a high pace that the risk for films to be outdated quickly and therefore losing almost all appeal for the audience is very high. And therefore, Pulse is dead on arrival. The story idea from Japan was quite philosophical back in 2001 but the US version’s style doesn’t help the experience. It’s stuffed with color filter and very dark. The characters are bland and uninteresting despite being depicted by well-known faces like Kristen Bell and Ian Somerhalder. Considering all this, the film’s underwhelming box office performance is no surprise: $30 million worldwide gross on a $21 million budget.
The US alone delivered $20 million which seems to justify the Weinstein Company’s move to insist on a teenage-friendly PG-13 rating (for intense sequences of sci-fi terror, disturbing images, language, sensuality and thematic material). The only upside is that other territories outside the US got the uncensored version directly in theaters and on home video. In the US, this version was distributed on home video as “Unrated Cut”.
Compared are the PG-13 version and the Unrated Cut (both by Weinstein Company).
9 scenes with alternate material
The Unrated Cut runs 82.12 sec. or approx. 1 minute 23 seconds longer than the PG-13 version.
0:16:45: The Unrated shows more clearly that Josh has hanged himself with a computer cable and also features an additional shot of him hanging from the ceiling.
0:25:14: The PG-13 version doesnít show how Stoneís soul is sucked out of his body by the ghost.
0:27:20: We see Stone longer as he makes a pained face.
0:31:12: The suicide by gunshot is missing as well as the sound of the shot itself.
0:34:27: Mattie sees different things on the computer screen. In the PG-13 version, she sees a staring woman while the Unrated presents the guy shortly before shooting himself, behind him standing a ghost silhouette.
The PG-13 version runs 0.68 sec. longer
0:36:23: Completely gone is a scene in which Mattie witnesses how a woman throws herself off a tower, falling to her death. Mattie is then comforted by Isabelle as the ambulance arrives.
0:38:53: It is probably due to logic reasons that the beginning of the conversation between Mattie and Dr. Waterson is missing. Here, she says that she witnessed two people committing suicide but since both instances are not shown in the PG-13 version, that would have made no sense for viewers of that version.
"I have seen two people kill themselves. My psych professor stepped out in front of a moving bus. All in the last week. Half you walked around campus lately? Every classroom is half-empty and no one is talking about it."
0:43:52: Stone shivers as he holds a knife in his hand.
0:44:03: The knife falls to the ground.
0:44:49: The glass splinters from the spyhole fly towards the eye.
0:46:14: As Mattie sits in front of the computer screen, she again sees different things in both versions. The Unrated shows someone hanging from the ceiling and a woman sitting on a bed with blood on her face and hands. The PG-13 version is more harmless.
The PG-13 version runs 5.52 sec. longer
0:52:31: And again.
The PG-13 version runs 2.28 sec. longer
0:55:03: Itís not really clear why the PG-13 version is a bit longer as the demon attacks out of the washing machine. Censorship isnít really visible here.
The PG-13 version runs 1.4 sec. longer
1:00:04: Isabelle emphasizes her wish to die.
Isabelle: "I wanna die but I'm too afraid to do it."
Mattie: "You're not gonna die."
Isabelle: "I want to."
1:14:19: The hands are grabbing Mattie a little longer and as her soul is nearly sucked out, the Unrated is a few frames longer.
1:20:19: The PG-13 version even has a different shot of the demon punching through the car window. Also, a shot of the frightened Mattie is missing. Still, the PG-13 version is longer since it drags out more harmless shots a little longer.
The PG-13 version runs 1.12 sec. longer
1:20:27: A ghost hand grabs the face.
1:20:32: Again, Dexterís face is grabbed by a ghost hand but both versions have a different shot of that. Maybe the PG-13 version wanted to avoid the sight of too much blood on his face.
The PG-13 version runs 0.16 sec. longer
1:20:35: And again, this time with an additional shot in the Unrated.