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
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
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.