Published on January 10th, 2005 | by Erich Becker0
Review: White Noise
White Noise, the latest copy-cat inspired by The Ring, is either really late coming on to the scene or really early. The movie would be late if it was trying to capitalize on the wave of sub par genre flicks tee-ed off by The Ring, or early if it is attempting to ride the wave of The Ring Two hitting theaters in March. Either way the film is a disappointing, disjointed horror movie that tries to make that time between your cable going out, and your time on hold with the company frightening as the static you see…may…just…get…you.
The film finds Jonathon Rivers (Michael “Batman” Keaton) still feeling the effects of his wife’s death after an apparent accident in which she drown changing a tire on her car (no really). After six months Jon is finally getting his life back in order when a mysterious man offers him the ability to speak to his dead wife through EVP. Apparently, the static and “white noise” of modern devices are a portal through which ghosts can use their anytime minutes and call you, even during peak hours, although they prefer nights and weekends. After Jon’s “medium” is brutally killed he is still determined to talk to his wife, so he sets up his own little studio to record the dead and see what the other side is like.
Unfortunately, White Noise is the kind of static you want to turn off after its slow opening and slightly before its limp climax and “trick” ending which leaves you wondering why you spent money to see this. The film suffers the most from the fact that you just don’t care. It isn’t like the slasher films of yester-yore when you weren’t really suppose to care about the canon fodder, this is a man who has been traumatized by the death of his wife and all I can think about is saving up to 15% on my car insurance. Writer Niall Johnson’s script has about 20 minutes worth of story available to use and is padded by montage shots of Michael Keaton starring at static on his TV. I can do this myself and not spend $6.50.
Another major problem, besides the lack of plot, is the cinematography employed by director Geoffrey Sax who has an immense fixation with arching crane shots to the point where you almost feel as though you are some supreme being trying to find out where this movie went wrong (here’s a hint, it was green lit). I also find a problem with the marketing campaign offering this movie as the most disturbing film in years, and while that may be true, it isn’t for the reasons the corporate suits would like you to believe. I’m sure you’ll find more people horrified that they were subjected to this rather than those scared by the content itself.
The film also shows that writers and directors have run out of ideas when they resort to cheap scares such as establishing shots preceded by a quick flash of an image and loud noise on screen. Truth be told, most of the “jump-scenes” can be picked out by astute horror film buffs, who will be this film’s core audience this week, and seen coming minutes away. If anything White Noise resorts to the generic, cookie-cutter stylings of such copy-cats as FearDotCom which tried to build upon the Ring‘s influence when the latter film was released in 2002.
Since the film centers on Michael Keaton’s character you would think the script would open him up a bit more, but throughout the course of the film we see him as a man who can’t let go and becomes fixated on some cause that may very well have lead to many people’s deaths. The movie attempts to explain why he keeps on doing what he’s doing by making him the savior-de-jour in a set of random scenes which have nothing to do with the movie, but eat up running time. Also the laugh-inducing dialog is even harder to handling by overacting and the strange feeling you might be more entertained if he were wearing his black cowl.
I can’t say much about the film’s ending except it reeks of corporate meddling with the underlying fact that you need to have a trick ending or no one will see your movie. Long gone are the days of Matrix-inspired happy-time-rainbow-endings, now you need to have some twisted person pulling the puppet strings or, gasp, people might avoid your poor showing.
White Noise is an easy film to turn off, most people should lose focus after the opening credits, but for those of you brave enough to give it a try, why not wait until The Ring Two opens in two months. This white noise is the kind of static you want to avoid, and I only wish I had.