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Reviewer: Danger Kid

Category: Movie

Subject: White Noise (starring Michael Keaton)

Is White Noise a scary film? Not really, only if you are scared of watching blank videos. In fact, if you wanted you could experience all the thrills of White Noise in your own home by leaving your TV set on after 3am. But what if a slightly aggressive voice spoke to you from the TV in the middle of the night? Would you be scared then? Because that is (almost) exactly what (sometimes) happens in White Noise.

Architect Jonathan Rivers loses his wife in a mysterious car accident and discovers he can still communicate with her spirit by Electronic Voice Phenomenon: recording and replaying hours and hours of "nothing" on cassette tapes and videos to capture voices from beyond the grave. However all is not as it seems as Jonathan's messages are invaded by some evil ghosts with slightly aggressive voices! They use words like "PIG!" and "ROT!" and even "BASTARD!" which worries Jonathan no end. Who are these evil ghosts and what do they want and are they responsible for the recent spate of murders in Jonathan's village? (Clue: yes)

Just like Bill Odie would rather spend an afternoon with a red-crested meadow lark than any real human being, Michael Keaton would prefer to watch endless videos of static rather than spend time with his young son. Here in lies the real moral of the film, I think; don't get so obsessed with grief over the dead that you forget the living. Just like Batman actually. I'm sure this lesson will be greatly comforting to all the widowers in the cinema watching White Noise this winter.


Watch out for Keaton's "sceptical" face, it's a good one. Sceptical is quite a hard expression to pull off, but Michael does it superbly. Try it for yourself and you will see what I mean. He also does "obsessive" and "confused and also bit scared" quite well too. I bet he spent 6 months working as an architect just for the 30 seconds he appears on screen looking at those blueprints. He is such a professional.

Some lazy journalists have compared White Noise to Poltergeist and The Ring. This is purely because White Noise features some video cassettes (like The Ring) and a ghost speaking through a TV (like Poltergeist). It is like comparing the film to Batman or that one with The Fonz in it just because they both feature Michael Keaton.

While it is weak and boring to compare White Noise to Poltergeist and The Ring, it is very clever and insightful to liken it to The Sixth Sense i.e. A grumpy man investigates a strange spooky phenomenon which gradually becomes more and more odd until the (boring) truth is finally revealed at the end in a series of rubbish flashbacks.

The build up through out the first two thirds of White Noise is very very very slow, and I actually found myself enjoying the gentle pace. In fact, I could have quite happily spent 2hrs just watching Michael go about his daily business, looking at some blue prints and occasionally watching some blank videos.

But in truth, White Noise is all very intriguing and chilling and suspenseful for 90 minutes but it is ultimately ruined by a rubbish ending. Now, I famously guessed the twist for The Sixth Sense in 1986 so I was not very impressed by it at all, but at least there was a actual twist. White Noise is crying out for a clever ending but in the absence of one it tries to shove in every stock "surprise" ending in the book leaving a stupid mess that doesn't really make any sense. I think the writers could not come up with a proper ending so they just chucked in every idea they could think of. Honestly there are so many holes in the plot it is ridiculous. If you are going to have such a long build-up, then you need a great ending. In the end, not even the wide range of expressions of Michael Keaton can save White Noise from becoming a boring Sixth Sense rip-off with a couple of good scares but a rubbish finale.

Mark Out of Seven: 4

SEE IT AT CINEMA? don't bother
GET IT ON DVD? up to you I guess
WATCH IT ON TV? Watch the first half then switch channels.

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