Week 12 – “Horror”

At first I was a bit disappointed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse because the story is convoluted, and as far as horror movies go, I would give Pulse a 1/10 on the terrifying scale (I struggle to see how this movie falls under the genre of Horror).

However, I’m so glad we talked about the movie afterwards because I gained much respect for it; I love that the computer program is a symbol of isolation that represents all humans and ghosts as isolated beings who desperately crave connections to one another. I realized how breathtakingly beautiful the film’s concept and story are and how deep and relevant the message is to today’s society. Although the film was not scary in the slightest, I still appreciate it for its message and GORGEOUS cinematography.

So about that genre–I struggle to see how Kurosawa’s Pulse fits under the genre of Horror, but if I had to guess why.. I might say something along the lines of .. the ghosts in the film create a creepy mood and people scream in the movie. Other than those two things, I would quickly categorize this film as fantasy and mystery.

Horror films typically revolve around eliciting negative reactions from the viewer (scaring or disturbing the viewer). Kurosawa’s film fails to elicit negative reactions from the viewer (unless that reaction is boredom/drowsiness). They tend to include the supernatural (okay, so this film DOES include ghosts, but the ghosts do not scare the viewer). Horror films typically build suspense to effect surprise/anxiety/terror in the viewer. This film effects none of those things. Kurosawa had MANY opportunities to build suspense, but he decided not to for whatever reason (with a couple (maybe one or two) notable exceptions.. such as near the end when Harue is being filmed, and she walks into the dark room and hugs the ghost). Mostly, the film shows the action very slowly and calmly and doesn’t ever really allow the viewer to achieve a scare stronger than the 1/10 I mentioned earlier. I found Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to be a vastly more terrifying movie than Kurosawa’s Pulse, and it isn’t even classified as a Horror movie. It is classified as fantasy. Which is what I would classify this movie as.

I did enjoy the movie after it was explained. I’m just saying I don’t see how it falls under the Horror category.

The American Pulse is very clearly a horror film in that its only goal is to scare the viewer or make the viewer jump. In fact, it cares more about scaring the viewer than it does telling a good story or giving depth to its characters (which is pretty typical of American horror films).

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3 thoughts on “Week 12 – “Horror”

  1. I think it is debatable as to how broad the scope of the horror genre is. Genres are general terms to begin with, and when a film is not a quintessential genre film, picking what genre it fits into is always up for argument.

    That being said, I still believe that Kairo fits into the category of horror. Horror does not only have to be a bloody, gory, jump-out-of-your-seat kind of thing. Rosemary’s Baby is not like that in the least — it was slower and subtler than today’s typical horror, just like Kairo. And it is still a rather horrifying film.

    Kairo is certainly creepy, and the story is one to be spooked by. And for this reason I believe it can be classified as horror — it is subtly and psychologically terrifying.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. While I can see how Kairo falls into the horror genre, I think it’s probably better if it’s not considered horror. For me, the horror genre is about drawing a response out of the audience from a deep-rooted, don’t-have-to-think-about-it sort of place. Fear and our responses to it are instinctual; when something scares us, we don’t think, we react. I think the horror genre reflects this in a way. While obviously a good horror movie sometimes requires an audience to think, it is not in a philosophical way and though many movies stand as a symbol for a fear in a culture, I tend to think of those falling under other genres than horror even if they have horror elements. In the end, for me, a horror movie is just a movie: no lessons to be learned, no great overarching message, just good old fashioned fear.

  3. I have never seen a film that I am confused about its genre but this was one of them it combines so many elements that to just call it a horror film is a gross simplification. it combines so many elements from the cyber-punk genre, to a philosophically engaged movie. I think that is what makes this film so memorable, the mix and confusion of genre. I honestly felt more engaged with the philosophical interests of the characters over the cinematography and lighting allowing me to actually like the movie instead of analyzing it.

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