Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Movie Review: White Noise

United States, 2005
U.S. Release Date: 1/7/05 (wide)
Running Time: 1:38
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, disturbing images, profanity)
Cast: Michael Keaton, Chandra West, Deborah Kara Unger, Ian McNeice

Director: Geoffrey Sax
Producers: Paul Brooks, Shawn Williamson
Screenplay: Niall Johnson
Music: Claude Foisy
Studio: Universal Pictures

Posted by Hello
You might be wondering: Why hasn’t Michael Keaton picked up a lead role in nearly a decade? Well, White Noise is the answer. With a running time just under one hour and forty minutes, White Noise is 98 minutes too long. It is way too vanilla to be even described as a decent psychological horror film. Worse than both Dragonfly and The Forgotten, White Noise makes the likes of The Grudge and even Darkness Falls look frightening and commendable. White Noise is an utter cacophony of insanely predictable plot developments, silly science, and stupid static that will surely lull any moviegoer into a slumber.

Jonathan Rogers (Michael Keaton) is a well-off architect whose wife Anna (Chandra West) announces that she is pregnant. After some small poorly inserted love scenes – with smiles and laughs shared between husband and wife – that solely establish a connection (albeit a bad one), you guessed it…Anna dies. Her car is discovered on the side of a road near a small cliff, and her body is found on the rocks below. Apparently, her death was caused by severe head trauma from the fall.

Months later, through a series of transmissions via various electronic devises, Jonathan hears his dead wife call out his name. Jonathan then turns to Raymond (Ian McNeice), an obese British man who explains the concept behind Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). EVP is the supposed means wherein the dead can contact the living through the static of any electronic equipment—you name it: televisions, telephones, radios, CD players and answering machines; apparently, the deceased have their own channel that spans all mediums.

As fast as you can snap your fingers, Jonathan goes from highly skeptical of Raymond’s convincing, to an absolute EVP fanatic—buying every type of electronic equipment you can think of and then both watching and listening to endless hours of static. Maybe it is just me, but after seeing nothing buy grey pixels and hearing nothing but a crackling buzz, your mind definitely has the ability to decide what visions you see and what sounds you perceive.

Nevertheless, the sights and noises that Jonathan observes show him the deceased before they die. Jonathan believes that his wife is sending him these messages to keep the living alive, but a blind fortune teller thinks otherwise. The one thing that Raymond forgot to tell Jonathan was to stay away from those images and reverberations that seem to be sinister.

Identical to a foreigner attempting to speak another country’s native language, director Geoffrey Sax clumsily pieces something together. His effort is missing credible plot developments, any trace of legitimate science, and a hefty amount of promising scares. In addition, a crucial aspect that Sax fails to impede is the suspension of disbelief; seeing the dead on a TV screen is just about as authentic and tangible as spotting the Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese.

Being that its EVP focus is at least absorbing, White Noise – in terms of plot, structure and horror – underachieves in everyway imaginable. In fact, the trailer’s introduction to EVP is more intriguing than the actual film as a whole. Its scares are too ridiculously inexplicable and its drama is too drab to become the slightest bit enthralled with the storyline.

Because White Noise’s ending makes no sense whatsoever, it leaves a heap of questions left unanswered. Still, by the end, not one single soul will care to have these questions answered. With poor direction, a script full of errors, and a lead who snores through his role, White Noise is one reel that should have never made it past the cutting room floor. (* our of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2005