Stop touching me!

Mark R. Hasan : Pulse is a remake of the Japanese film Kairo/Pulse (2001). Had you seen the original film before scoring the American project?

Elia Cmiral : I'd seen it, but it's so different. While story is very similar, the only inspiration I got from the Japanese version was the technological aspects, and the strong isolation between people.

MRH: With the Japanese film, the pacing is much more measured, and the shock sequences are very gradual. The filmmaker exploited very simple images that gradually come out of darkness, and the score itself is similarly minimal and chamber-oriented for greater intimacy. Your score has more of a technological slant, and I guess that's partly because the role of computers and technology are much more prominent in the American film.

EC: That's right. There's much more weight on the use of cellphones and text messages. The whole movie starts with people sitting in a café, and one of the young kids is sending text messages to the person sitting next to him; that's kind of the paradox where, instead of talking to each other directly, they're hiding behind text machines and voice mail and leaving messages. You never know if a person gets it or not; they're kind of hiding.

MRH: I find that many American horror films today tend to be about shocks and special effects, and I wonder, because you've scored a number of horror projects, if it's very hard to find a movie with a good story and characters?

EC: It is difficult in horror. Actually, for me, horror is not just smashing and cutting off heads and splashing blood on the wall; it's the psychological pressure of something unknown that you don't know how to deal with. That is terror for me, and I think Pulse has it because it has a very interesting story about the kids and the phantom coming through the Internet, through the computers, and through wireless technology. I think it's extremely interesting because we are sending so much information, so many personal opinions and emails. How do we know who is reading it? We really don't know.

MRH: One free email service uses ads that are based on the software that reads the content of your email, and then strategically places the ads related to the content of the email; while it's not an individual reading your correspondences, your email is still being scanned, which I always find a bit creepy.

EC: I think it is extremely creepy. We're surrounded by computers and all this automated technology which has become in one way part of our lives. How much control do we have? That's a good question. There's a very interesting line in the movie where the main character, Mattie, asks the guy how long he's been watching the images on the computer, but the question is 'How long have they been watching us?' which is a very significant line.

MRH: Do you find that an emphasis on graphic violence is an aspect that sometimes turns off composers?

EC: Yes, it's true, but on the other hand, when I'm writing I usually don't have the film's final graphic images, so it doesn't really affect me so much.

Poster for the Japanese KAIRO/PULSE


Aw, they look so cute...

Poster for the US remake of PULSE

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