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 White Noise
 Critic's Rating
 Date Posted
   23rd February, 2005
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Cast: Michael Keaton, Deborah Unger, Ian McNeice
Director: Geoffrey Sax

'White noise' is a movie so gimmicky, so preposterously ridiculous in its presentation of an intriguing concept that after dispensing its initial idea it dissolves into a dreary tale of suburban loss and cheap boo scares. Like other recent horror movies, such as 'The Grudge' it has an idea that seems just ripe and readymade for a horror movie, that of the dead communicating with their loved ones via the use of everyday technology and devices such as television, radio and mobile phones. But when a great deal of the movie is spent with a mourning husband looking into TV static and proclaiming his love for his dead wife, you know the movie is in trouble.

Michael Keaton makes a return of sorts to acting playing Jonathan Rivers, whose wife disappears one night and is found dead three weeks later in a river. In the traditional formula of horror movies, strange things start to happen. He gets abrupt phone calls where he suspects his wife whispers to him, his radio blurts random signal blasts and he is followed by a man who claims that a something known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon has allowed him to reach and communicate with the dead and bring closure to many. At this point, the mismatched atmosphere of a television soap notwithstanding, there is much promise and potential. But then for a very long time the only thing Jonathan Rivers is able to do is exchange loving, teary glances at a fuzzy television screen, with his wife and other dead beings purportedly staring back.

How exciting is it to watch someone record and gaze at television signals over and over again? If 'White noise' is any indication it's duller than the proverbial task of watching paint dry. The plot of the film seems an afterthought. Characters without motive or purpose come and go, nothing happens for long gaps and then suddenly signs that point to a mystery bombard Jonathan and he becomes a saviour. I kept thinking how only a great ending ala 'The sixth sense' could redeem this film, but even that didn't occur. The only good thing about movies like 'White noise' coming out during the beginning of the year is that they manage to set the bar for lousy flicks really low, so we know we won't be witness to anything more perverse. - Faizan Rashid

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