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Saturday, 1 May 2010

White Noise

Is White Noise a scary film? Not really, only if you are scared of watching blank videos. In fact, if you wanted, you could experience all the thrills of White Noise in your own home by leaving your TV set on after 3am.

But what if a slightly aggressive voice spoke to you from the TV in the middle of the night? Would you be scared then? Because that is exactly what (sometimes) happens in White Noise.

Architect Jonathan Rivers loses his wife in a mysterious car accident and discovers he can still communicate with her spirit by Electronic Voice Phenomenon - recording and replaying hours and hours of "nothing" on cassette tapes and videos to capture voices from beyond the grave.

Just like Bill Odie would rather spend an afternoon with a red-crested meadow lark than any real human being, Michael Keaton would prefer to watch endless videos of static rather than spend time with his young son. (Here in lies the real moral of the film - don't get so obsessed with grief over the dead that you forget the living.)

However all is not as it seems as Jonathan's messages are invaded by some evil ghosts with slightly aggressive voices! They use words like "PIG!" and "ROT!" and even "BASTARD!" which worries Jonathan no end.

(BTW: Watch out for Keaton's "sceptical" face, it's a good one. Sceptical is quite a hard expression to pull off, but Michael does it superbly. Try it for yourself and you will see what I mean. He also does "obsessive" and "confused and also bit scared" quite well too. I bet he spent 6 months working as an architect just for the 30 seconds he appears on screen looking at those blueprints. He is such a professional.)

So who are these evil ghosts and what do they want? And are they responsible for the recent spate of murders in Jonathan's village? (Clue: yes)

It's easy to compare White Noise to The Sixth Sense - A grumpy man investigates a strange spooky phenomenon which gradually becomes more and more odd until the (boring) truth is finally revealed at the end in a series of rubbish flashbacks - but while The Sixth Sense twist is blindingly obvious from the beginning, at least it has an actual twist.

In the absence of one it tries to shove in every stock "surprise" ending in the book leaving a stupid mess that doesn't really make any sense. In the end, not even the wide range of expressions of Michael Keaton can save White Noise from its destiny in the bargain bins.

Mark Out of Seven: 4

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