Quick Hit: A decent idea and a harried performance ultimately goes wasted in this slow burning thriller.
Welcome to the lost color of Red, Green and White weeks here at DFP. Today we’re featuring a thriller from 2005 called White Noise, starring Michael Keaton back between his current Renaissance and his starring roles in the 90s. The film essentially is a giant commercial for EVP, Electronic Voice Phenomenon to the uninitiated. And while I really enjoyed the ideas presented, the movie suffers from a poor script that features long moments of nothing followed by “bursts” of “action” – and there’s a reason those are in sarcastic quotations.
There’re only a few things that I can recommend this movie for, so I’ll start with those. First, there is actually a scene or two that features a decent jump scare. It’s not enough to actually be presented as scary, but it allows a moment or two to move the film along. Second, Keaton has a solid performance, even if a lot of it consists of shouting and angrily slamming his hand on the table. Finally, as I mentioned previously, the idea of communicating via EVP is pretty fascinating. On a whole, the movie feels a bit like the movie Frequency, which is one of my random favorites in that it revolves entirely around communication with someone that you couldn’t physically talk to. And both have the plot device of finding a kidnapped woman, so take that as you will.
Where the movie ultimately fails to provide entertainment value is the script and the characters. We’re constantly getting new random characters that lack any interesting qualities besides the fact that they’re in Keaton’s orbit. Even the characters that show up occasionally throughout the movie, such as the ex-wife and the son, are consistently thrown away and wasted because there is so little about them to care about. It’s not enough to just have them onscreen with an occasional line of dialogue – you have to have them be people too.
There’s also a bunch of random artsy shots that remind me a bit of what I talked about in Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness. Keaton is constantly getting reflected in mirrored surfaces, which I suppose is meant to be a bit of an allusion to the fact that he’s always checking out a grey snow of a television screen looking for faces. Instead of artistically coming across, it seems hackneyed and a bit random. The movie is best when it focuses on Keaton as he is – an increasingly harried man who just wants to contact his deceased with.
As a whole, I can’t recommend this film. Honestly, it scared me when I was a 15 year old, but it didn’t do anything for me now. It’s a subpar to average thriller that you could do without. But it’s an interesting case study for Keaton’s career, so if you’re curious, it’s not bad enough to avoid if you feel the need to watch it. I’m giving it a “C-“.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"