[box cover]

White Noise

Please take a moment to consider the premise of the boring and fundamentally silly "supernatural thriller" White Noise (2005). There will be a test later:

"An architect (Michael Keaton) loses his superhot author wife (Chandra West) in a car accident. But soon, she's leaving him cryptic messages from the grave — thanks to the miracle of 'Electronic Voice Phenomenon,' or EVP — repeatedly uttering street names and vague pronouncements like 'Go now!' through his cell phone, radio and television static. She also shows him fuzzy, highly art-directed images of horrible events. Eventually Keaton and a superhot widow (Deborah Kara Unger) realize they can use EVP to prevent deaths before they happen."

Now. Assuming you've seen the film — and you shouldn't — here are some questions for review:

  1. Was this some sort of failed TV pilot or something?
  2. If your superhot author wife just announced she's pregnant, then leaves your gated home in a tiny convertible to pick up your son on her way to discuss her new book, and that book is titled "The Eternal Wait," is that like way too much ironic foreshadowing in the space of two-and-a-half minutes?
  3. Why do we never see Michael Keaton properly grieve for his wife — and are instead treated to endless shots of him staring at TV static and pursing his lips in brushed-concrete environments?
  4. Why, precisely, would a dead person capable of hijacking cell-phone numbers and radio-station frequencies only leave the most vague and unhelpful messages imaginable?
  5. When director Geoffery Sax and writer Niall Johnson were concocting this puree — which blends elements of The Ring, The Grudge, The Dead Zone, Brainstorm, Poltergeist, Frequency, Maximum Overdrive and that "Twilight Zone" episode where the telephone line fell on that guy's grave — at what point did they confuse "eerie" with "dull"?
  6. Is the deeply unlikable way that Keaton ignores his son to listen to hours of TV static meant to comment on grief and the need to move forward? If so, doesn't that mean, by extension, that the filmmakers sort of have contempt for their own horror premise?
  7. When our hero is first confronted by a crank (Ian McNeice) who's been talking to Keaton's dead wife via EVP, was circling the two of them with the camera at breakneck speed really the best way to shoot that scene?
  8. Why does it never occur to Keaton that all the static footage McNiece shows him could be fake? Or, even more likely, that the guy just recorded channel 32 with the UHF antenna unplugged?
  9. Is it a good idea to have your supernatural villains resemble the "Bat Boy" from Weekly World News?
  10. Why does Keaton's wife, with her spooky, temporally confused messages, keep putting her husband in mortal danger and running the risk of further orphaning her son? Is she lonely?
  11. Why doesn't this movie make one funky lick of sense?

Universal's DVD release of White Noise offers a strong anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Star Michael Keaton and director Geoffrey Sax chime in on a commentary, while five deleted scenes offer director's commentary and a "Play All" option. Three featurettes are limited to Electronic Voice Phenomena, including "Making Contact: EVP Experts" (8 min.), "Recording the Afterlife at Home" (4 min.), and "Hearing is Believing: Actual EVP Sessions" (14 min.). Keep-case.
M.E. Russell



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