A-list actors have had a spooky time filming the latest local horror series, “Pulse”, set to release on Showmax on June 23.
Shot in South Africa and Mauritius, “Pulse” follows a group of video game developers who become trapped in a real-world version of their own creation. As such, they’re cornered in their high-rise office building by a madman who just wants to play.
The six-episode series stars Thapelo Mokoena in a role that goes against the grain of characters he has played so far. He plays a narcissistic producer while Tarryn Wyngaard plays Jaz, the creator of a hit independent video game that’s getting a mainstream reboot.
“Pulse” also stars Sven Ruygrok (“Spud”) and two-time Silwerskerm winner Carel Nel, with cameos from multi-award-winners Albert Pretorius and Laré Birk. And one of the country's most recognisable actors, Frank Opperman, is also in the show.
Mokoena described the series as the “most amazing project” he has ever made.
“There isn’t anything like this show. No offence to every other amazing series I’ve made, but ‘Pulse’ is really one of the most, if not the most, amazing project I’ve ever made in my 20-year career.”
Wyngaard described Stephen Clarke’s scripts, “incredibly out of this world and like nothing I’ve ever read before”.
The survival horror series is directed by multi-award-winner Sallas de Jager, who said: “On the surface it looks like a big shift, but for my period films we created worlds that don’t exist anymore, so this didn’t feel that different.”
Her films have always been about the emotional survival of her characters.
“With Pulse I’ve focused on making everyone feel like real people, not just mechanisms to get to the next gory thing.”
Produced by Emmy winner Steve Lanning, “Pulse” is set in a familiar office high-rise, which becomes steadily freakier thanks to Safta-winning production designer Waldemar Coetsee and the visionary VFX team of Laurent-Paul Robert, who worked on award-winning films like “Harry Potter” and Hilton Treves of “Tomb Raider”.
“Pulse” arrives on the back of multi-award-winning “Fried Barry", ”Gaia“ and ”Glasshouse“.
Ruygrok added: “Given the circumstances we all find ourselves in with Covid, I think there is general fear and anxiety. Horror films give you the opportunity to really let go and release a little bit of that anxiety in company, where it’s deemed okay.
“When you watch horror you almost have an excuse to let that go; there is a form of catharsis there.”
Breaking away from the seriousness of filming a horror, the actors played many pranks on set which lightened the mood.
“We’d be filming something, crawling through vents, and they wouldn’t tell me but they’d put the camera on me and they’d do a bang or explosion and I’d get an actual fright.
“It would take a while to calm down afterwards. There were a lot of pranks on set; it got quite funny behind the scenes with how people tried to spook each other. That was a definite highlight,” Wyngaard added.