White Noise (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/01/2005

One out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Tedious, slow-moving and badly-written, this is an early contender for the worst film of 2005.

All over the country, people have been spotting the posters for White Noise on the sides of buses and exclaiming, “Wow. Michael Keaton! I haven’t seen him in a film since…well, actually, I can’t remember the last time I saw Michael Keaton in a film.” This is no surprise - his only starring role since Multiplicity in 1996 has been…er…Jack Frost in 1998, though it appears that Keaton has finally started making movies again; First Daughter and Herbie: Fully Loaded are both due for release later this year. Unfortunately, however, his first film of the year is unlikely to win him any new fans, as White Noise is an early contender for the worst film of 2005.

Messages On The Airwaves

Keaton stars as Yet Another Architect (surely the most popular movie profession?), whose nubile, newly-pregnant, best-selling author wife dies in a mysterious accident. The body isn’t found immediately and Keaton finds himself being followed by a fat man named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice), who claims a) that his wife really is dead, and b) he knows this because she’s been talking to him via the medium of White Noise (i.e. the static between radio stations and TV channels).

At first Keaton is all, “Whatever, freak”, but when he starts getting ghostly calls on his mobile phone and self-erasing answerphone messages he beats a path to the fat man’s door and learns all about the magic of EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomenon.

Sure enough, it isn’t long before Keaton is obsessively scanning the airwaves for evidence of his wife, using lots of strategically-placed Sony products. For pure shock value, he occasionally picks up ghosts shouting things like, “Die, bitch!” and “BASTARD!”, which make you wonder if his machines aren’t channelling the thoughts of audience members.

Eventually he comes to believe that his dead wife is trying to help him to save lives by leading him to people who haven’t died yet, just like in a bad TV pilot. However, things aren’t quite as simple as that and Keaton discovers that those pesky ghosts can be EVIL as well as good…

Should Be Fun But Really, Really Isn’t

Admittedly, the premise of White Noise makes it sound like it should be a lot more fun than it actually is. That it doesn’t work is largely due to the pacing, which is desperately slow throughout – we get endless scenes of Keaton scanning the airwaves, punctuated by the odd scream just to keep us awake. It also doesn’t help that the script is incredibly dull – all in all, it’s the worst kind of bad movie, because there aren’t even any unintentionally amusing bits.

Keaton himself is okay (despite a distinctly dodgy hairpiece that even William Shatner would reject), though he definitely over-uses his “confused” facial expression. There’s also good support from Deborah Kara Unger as a fellow EVP enthusiast and Keegan Connor Tracy (from Jake 2.0) as a blind palm-reader whose warnings fall on deaf ears.

Undoubtedly, the worst thing about the film is the climax, which manages to be confusing, ridiculous, depressing and ill-conceived, all at the same time. Clearly the film-makers think they’re being daring and original, but the film does nothing to earn the “shock” of its ending.

In short, watching actual white noise would be preferable to sitting through White Noise. Avoid like your life depended on it.

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White Noise (15)
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Content updated: 11/12/2017 05:56

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