5 out of 10
"The dead are trying to contact us", but all we seem to pick up is a lot of static and one in twelve messages that do come through are ominously threatening and abusive from the monsters that run things there. So what does this show up? Yep, just as I always suspected, Hell isn't a firey pit of torment, but worse... an eternity dealing with Bell Canada.
When a movie starts with an all American family living the "happy-ever-after-life", you kinda know that one of them won't be making it to the 10-minute mark alive, and when one of them is played by an actress you've never heard of, it's not hard to guess who's got their name written on the bullet. Following the disappearance and death of his wife Anna, Jonathan Rivers encounters Raymond Price, a radio ham,, who introduces him to EVP, the science of picking up messages from the dead within the off-station static. Leading a group of geeks, Rivers and Price start to receive onimous warnings of the future which are largely useless to them through not having the staggering genius it would take to make sense of them.
As "Weekly World News" and any of the other joke tabloids will testify, EVP is only one of an innumerable paranormal sensations, with another being DEJA-VU. Within 15 minutes of the flick, any movie buff worth his salt will be saying, they've seen this film before - country location, the wife dies whilst out driving, grieving husband, the ominous warnings on the radio, even the flashy camera angles - Geoffrey Sax's film of Niall Johnson's script looks so similar to "The Mothman Prophecies", I am baffled to know why they have not been sued in litigation hungry America. Admittedly, there are differences, but ALL of them are negative. Firstly, Mothman is based on documented fact whilst White Noise is constantly illogical... why does a 5-storey fall onto carst iron and glass NOT kill a woman, but a ONE STOREY tumble is instantly terminal for a man? ...Why do the cops believe some weirdo they barely know who claims he's found a missing woman through mystic powers and send the full resources of the law to back him up? ...And if they have moments of such perfect reception from the dead, all recorded, surely it would have had the world's press beaing a path to their door? None of it sounds credible. Secondly, themes in White Noise are poorly developed. The stopping of the clock when it's owner dies is actual recorded fact in some places, such as Henry Ford's grandfather clock which was bought by his family the day he was born and stopped, never to run again, ten minutes after his death, yet the relevance and reasoning is not explained. Thirdly, Richard Gere was superb in Mothman with a strong supporting cast, albeit of unknown actors. In White Noise, Micheal Keaton has to work with a supporting cast that make him look more like Buster Keaton: they make so little impact that you really do care nothing about them with the sole exception of the fine British actor, Ian McNeece as Price, who is clearly wasted here. Worst of all, is the shabby plot direction of White Noise which is left to meander aimlessly. It's as if Geoffrey Sax had no real idea what to do in the middle of the film, and even less at the end, with a last reel so utterly flat, dull and predictable as to be almost shocking - a sharp contrast with the brilliantly surprising twist of the Mothman Prophecies.
Over and over again, White Noise shocks us and makes us jump. As a horror pic to get the girlfriend to snuggle up it's worth the cash to see, but as a memorable movie, it falls well short of the anything that would make you ever want to see it again.
Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett