Octane (aka Pulse in the United States) is a 2002 thriller film directed by Marcus Adams and starring Madeleine Stowe and Mischa Barton. The story follows Senga Wilson, a recently divorced woman, trying to save her 15-year-old daughter Natasha from a bizarre cult obsessed with blood and cars.
Single mother Senga (Stowe) and her 15-year-old daughter Nat (Barton) are on a six-hour drive home, following a visit to Marek, Nat's father, for her birthday. After the occurrence of several eerie incidents, Senga decides to stop at a highway diner.
There, Nat meets The Backpacker (Bijou Phillips) and offers her a ride. Senga is visibly disturbed by The Backpacker and the strange ambient CD she plays in the car. They drop her at a picnic area and when they return seconds later to return the CD she left in the car, she appears to have disappeared.
Shortly after, Nat convinces her mother to return to the diner, so that she can get her birthday present from Marek. Already stressed from the long drive, Senga is furious when she discovers that Marek has bought Nat tickets to a concert that she has refused to allow her to attend. After a heated argument, Nat gets into an RV with The Backpacker and a strange couple.
Senga solicits the assistance of a police officer, but when she seems unhelpful, goes after the RV herself tailing the officer who had just left the diner.
When she catches up with the group, she breaks into their RV and discovers a number of strange and horrifying things, including thermoses full of blood and videos of young girls talking about their past lives. She escapes the RV before anyone returns, but when they get back on the road, The Backpacker reveals herself to be hiding in the backseat. She strangles Senga and causes her to crash.
In the back of an oil tanker, Nat parties with The Backpacker and a young man, who tell her about their group and their enigmatic leader.
Senga is woken by The Recovery Man (Norman Reedus), a disturbed drifter who cruises highways in his tow truck, who insists that Senga come with him. In his car, she finds a picture of a girl she saw in a video in the RV. The Recovery Man informs Senga that the girl is Christine, his dead sister.
Senga is taken to a police station, where she reports Nat's disappearance. The police are less than helpful, and, in frustration, Senga asks them to call Marek. The man who answers Marek's mobile is not Senga's ex-husband, but The Father (Jonathan Rhys-Myers), the cult's leader; he tells the police that Senga is on medication, and that Nat has been with him all weekend.
After a series of outbursts and hallucinations, Senga encounters three of the cult members and follows them to an abandoned research facility. Here, she encounters the Recovery Man again.
While Nat meets the Father, The Recovery Man sets off one of his bombs, killing most of the cult members. Before The Father can initiate Nat, Senga attacks him. Mother and daughter flee in different directions, with Senga being pursued by The Backpacker and Nat being placated by The Father, who uses a loudspeaker to talk to her. During the fight, The Father reveals that Senga wanted to have an abortion when she discovered she was pregnant with Nat. The shock of this revelation leaves Senga in a near catatonic state.
The Recovery Man pulls her out of her stupor by showing her Marek's body. Senga uses this information to demonstrate to Nat how evil her new friends are. While mother and daughter try to escape, The Recovery Man and The Father wrestle; when The Father bites The Recovery Man's tongue and spits it out, Senga detonates his last bomb, killing them both.
Mother and daughter continue their drive home, but when they stop at a gas station, they return to their car to find razor blades — The Father's calling card — attached to the rear view mirror.
- Madeleine Stowe as Senga Wilson.
- Mischa Barton as Natasha 'Nat' Wilson, Senga's daughter.
- Samuel Fröler as Marek, Senga's ex-husband and Natasha's father.
- Jonathan Rhys Meyers as The Father, the cult's leader
- Bijou Phillips as the Backpacker
- Leo Gregory as Joyrider
- Gary Parker and Amber Batty as the vacationing couple
- Jenny Jules as highway patrol sergeant
- Patrick O'Kane as the trucker
- Stephen Lord as Carjacker
- Sarah Drews as Christine
- Norman Reedus as the Recovery man, Christine's brother
- Martin MCDougall as Motivational Speaker
- Shauna Shim and David Menkin as paramedics
- Nigel Whitmey as Detective Ned Stephens
- Dean Gregory as a Christian missionary
- Raffaello Degruttola and Glenn Wrage as highway patrol cops
- Monika Hudgins as Southern woman
- Cesar Bayona Pinto as Latino busboy
- Véronique Koch and Ase Dunbar as Cashiers
- Nicolette Christie and Emma Drews as the teenage girl
- Tom Hunsiger as Crime Scene Investigator
- Sam Douglas as Crash site detective
- Rachel Pollack as NEW GIRL
- Mischa Barton had her belly button pierced especially for her part in this movie, but let it heal up again once filming was completed.