Halloween Scene: The Substitute (2007) & Pulse 2 (2008)

2:21:23 am

A few weeks (maybe months now) I raided the pile of new DVDs we get in the office and grabbed most of the horror movies. The Ghost House Underground flicks were on that pile, which I was pretty excited about, but I also grabbed some movies I didn’t really know anything about. The other day I watched one of each and I was pleasantly surprised by both.

First up was The Substitute from Denmark (Vikaren in whatever people from Denmark speak) which was awesome. The story reminds me of movies from my childhood (though I can’t remember any specifically) where a group of kids learn the truth about their teacher (she’s a whole chicken-eating alien) but the parents don’t believe them, partly because she has some kind of mind control powers when it comes to making people say things (she can also shrink people). There’s a ton of great scenes playing off this concept, like the teacher starting a relationship with the main kid’s dad and showing her true face only to him at the dinner table and another kid telling his parents something along the lines of “I hope you realize this is the last time you’ll ever see me alive” after trying to convince them of his teacher’s evilness and them still sending him on a field trip with her. There’s even a great scene where the kids sneak into the teacher’s house with terrifying results.

The story gets a bit confusing at the end, but all in all it’s a really solid story that’s got it’s own visual style and even sports opening and closing voiceovers about how humanity and earth are awesome. My only problems come with the fact that I’m not from Denmark and couldn’t watch this movie in a language I understand. The dubbing wasn’t as bad as some of the other movies I’ve watched, but my real problem stemmed from not being able to tell if the long haired blonde children were boys or girls. As the story plays on, though, I figured it out.

Like I said this was a really enjoyable movie, one that I’d actually like to see get remade in the states, but with a really solid director. How great would it be to have another Goonies-type movie showing kids in somewhat adult situations and dealing with a crazy situation? Do they make movies like that for kids anymore? I watched about 10 minutes of High School Musical 2 and wanted to hurt things, so I had to leave the room. Needless to say, I’m not real tapped in to what the kids like, but this would be good for them.

Pulse 2, however, probably wouldn’t be so good for the kids. Not because it’s a bad movie or even all that disturbing, but moreso because the ridiculous amounts of needless greenscreening may warp young minds. More on that in a minute. The story apparently follows directly from the original Pulse, which I did not see, so I was pretty lost. I’m also pretty sure that they don’t really go into many of the details of what happened in the first movie beyond “Computers caused it” or whatever.

The story follows a dad played by Jamie Bamber (who’s on Battlestar Galactica, but I don’t watch that show so, eh) trying to make sure his daughter’s okay in a world that’s slowly creating more and more black and white static ghosts that can only appear around technology (?). We start off following his ex-wife/the girl’s mom as she’s wandering around some weird dream world looking for her daughter (which is made even more dreamlike thanks to the greenscreening). Then it weirdly jumps to the dad grabbing the daughter and leaving for a cabin in the woods where his weird girlfriend comes in. There’s a whole lot of other weird plot elements, like a dude who claims to know how to stop the techno ghost plague (or whatever).

I had less than zero interest or expectations for this movie going in and even though it wasn’t great and the plot was a little sloppy in the beginning, I still kind of liked it. I’m not sure why, really. The story was compelling and the Battlestar Galactica dude acted pretty well even with all the weirdness and the greenscreening.

Okay, I can’t go on anymore without addressing this. There are tons of scenes filmed on green screens for some reason. And it’s not like this movie takes place on Mars or in Sin City, it’s a dude in a cabin, yet, instead of filming it normally it’s on a green screen. It didn’t bother me in the beginning because I assumed the mom was in some kind of weird dream world, but there were so many scenes sporting sloppy greenscreening that I couldn’t help but notice and I’m not usually able to spot this stuff so easily. It’s really distracting, but it also kind of adds to the weird goofy atmosphere of this movie. I probably wouldn’t watch Pulse 2 again, but it did kind of make me want to watch the Kristen Bell original to see what the heck is going on and I would definitely rent the third installment to see if the weird dude really did figure out a way to block the signal.

Oh, there’s also a completely weird scene where the dad and the kid are driving away, but dad stops as he sees a fat man in a diaper readying himself to jump off a bridge. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but if that was me, I’d speed up and get on the other side of that bridge ASAP. He stops, looks up, waits and then decides to drive, just in time for the fat man to smash into the top of his SUV and roll off the back. Haha, weird.

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