I missed the first installment in what is now the PULSE trilogy, but I did catch the second one and found it entertaining enough to look forward to part three. And here it is--PULSE 3 (2008), the final segment in the saga of a global apocalypse that occurs when a freak technological discovery opens up a portal between the world of the living and the dark, terrifying dimension of the dead.
The last movie ended with a newly-orphaned little girl named Justine (Karley Scott Collins) boarding a bus which would take her to an isolated refugee colony in West Texas, far from any visual communications devices or internet connections through which the soul-sucking ghosts enter our world. Now seventeen and chafing from the confines of her near-primitive lifestyle, Justine (the winsome Brittany Renee Finamore) runs away from her foster parents and heads for Houston after discovering a working laptop computer and making friends with an unseen IM buddy named Adam.
After barely surviving a harrowing encounter with a lonsesome cotton farmer along the way, Justine reaches the ruined city to find it inhabited only by baleful ghosts. Her search for Adam leads her right into the clutches of an old acquaintance from the previous film, The Man With A Plan (Todd Giebenhain). Holed up in his red-lined loft (the color red repels the ghosts), this psychotic yet highly-intelligent wacko has been developing a plan to foil the spirit invasion in conjunction with the military. The main drawback is that his plan involves lots of nuclear weapons. Locked in a red room with a captive ghost, Justine must find a way to escape and make contact with Adam--if he's even still alive.
PULSE 3 never builds up much of a head of steam and isn't quite the finale I'd expected, but it's still an entertaining and well-made grade B horror flick. Like the previous film, much of it is done with green-screen, both in exterior and interior shots, which might prove distracting or even off-putting for some viewers. Still, the photography is good and the film is technically superior to a lot of equally low-budget efforts I've seen. Director Joel Soisson's script offers an intriguing mystery concerning Adam's character, along with several imaginative vignettes along the way.
First off is the cool opening sequence which shows college student Adam (Rider Strong) carrying on a long-distance romance with an Egyptian girl named Salwa (Noureen DeWulf) via several monitor screens situated in the various rooms of their respective apartments. They chat, watch movies, have dinner together--everything short of actual physical contact. When the spirit invasion begins, Adam must witness Salwa's demise through her cell phone camera as she wanders onto a fire escape in a trancelike daze and jumps off.
My favorite sequence is when Justine, tired from her long journey toward Houston, spends a night with the lonesome cotton farmer, Wilkie (Thomas Merdis in a very good performance). At first she fears that the outwardly-nice but sorta creepy Wilkie may try to make sexual advances toward her, but his true intentions are even more terrifying and result in the film's goriest and most disturbing segment. Also quite entertaining is Justine's encounter with The Man With A Plan in his gadget-filled loft, which was filmed in an abandoned YMCA's indoor running track. Todd Giebenhain's performance is a hoot as he paces around the track, manically spouting reams of dialogue about his plan for wiping out the ghosts using the EMP from several airborn nuclear blasts.
The ghosts themselves aren't employed as effectively here as in the previous film, but there are some unnerving scenes and a few good shock cuts here and there. The filmmakers do a good job of depicting Houston as a ruined, empty city, and the scenes of Justine's shantytown home in the middle of nowhere are equally well designed and atmospheric.
The DVD is in matted widescreen format with good image and sound quality. Special features include a nice, low-key commentary with writer/director Soisson, Producer Mike Leahy, editor Kirk Morri, and star Brittany Finamore, plus a brief making-of featurette and some trailers.
How much you like or dislike PULSE 3 will have a lot to do with your expectations. As the conclusion to a trilogy, it falls far short of its potential and doesn't satisfy the anticipation the second chapter left me with. It's episodic, underpopulated, and sparsely plotted. But as a minor horror flick done by imaginative filmmakers on a low budget, I found it fairly entertaining and fun.