Week 12 Blog Assignment

The differences and similarities between Kairo and Pulse really highlight how broad a genre can be. It also shows how the same story can be represented in two different ways and each can give a different and distinct feel from the other.

The most notable difference between Kairo and Pulse is something that Kurosawa himself explained in the interview we were asked to read for this week. In it, he says that a major difference between “J-Horror” and American horror is that the ghosts do not attack people; they loom, they creep and they create a psychological terror much more lasting than that of American horror ghosts, but they do not chase and they do not physically harm people. This is so obvious when watching Kairo and Pulse back to back. In Kairo, the ghosts integrate themselves slowly into the lives of the characters and show no signs of relinquishing their hold, but they do not pursue their victims in the same way. In contrast, the opening scene of Pulse shows a ghost really messing with the guy on screen: flickering the lights, throwing books on the floor and ultimately, literally sucking the life out of him. The apparitions in Kairo are more creepy and lingering, creating a lasting psychological effect whereas the ghosts in Pulse are very in your face and very violent, leaving little time for tensions to build and expectations are met before we can even really formulate them.

Something else I noticed was that in Kairo, there is no mention of and no attempt to rid the world of these ghosts. Once again, Kurosawa explains this by saying that because they do not attack, the characters cannot defend themselves: they can only learn to coexist with them. In Pulse, Josh attempts to create a virus that can shut the ghost’s program down and Dexter tries to use it. Though the virus hasn’t worked from what we’ve seen so far, I have a feeling that Dexter and Mattie will find a way to defeat the ghosts, because this is what I’ve come to expect for the ending to an American horror film.

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2 thoughts on “Week 12 Blog Assignment

  1. I too thought that Kurosawa pinpoints the major difference between Kairo and Pulse exactly during his interview. He suggests that while both Japanese horror films and American horror films instill fear in the audience, the way they go about it differs greatly. What makes the Japanese version so horrific is the fact that the ghosts are literally incorporated into their everyday lives. The ghosts were relatively peaceful in the Japanese version, considering they never jump out at the spectators, strangle their victims, or even chase their victims. Their mere continual existence is what creates a frightening feeling. This contrasts greatly with the American version, in which the viewer witnesses the ghosts attacking and sucking the life out of the victims. So while the Westernize version takes a more physical approach, the Japanese version goes a more psychological route. These reasons are why I found the American version frightening me more at certain points during the film itself, but the Japanese movie forced me into an persistent unsettled state of mind.
    Truthfully, before watching the end of Pulse I would have predicted that Mattie and Dexter would find a way to shut down the virus, eliminating the ghosts, and everyone would live happily ever after. I was shocked this did not occur considering it is pretty typical for movies in the Western culture to have a happy ending.

  2. I love the statement that Kurosawa made about how his ghosts are always recurring and having the characters deal with the reality that they have to live with it rather than running away. I thought that was an interesting concept and idea because it is defiantly a scarier concept than running from ghosts. I find that to be the beauty of Kairo and what sets it apart from any movie that I have ever seen. It is a very subtle movie and is not extravagant in any way. The element of existentialism I thought was very interesting and appealed to my taste of thought and movies. All of the intellectual elements of Kairo made it into a movie that i enjoyed.

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