Wednesday, 20 March 2013

No.176 : White Noise

White Noise at the IMDb

If you think our TV is bad you should see Michael Keaton’s local TV station - nothing but static 24 hours a day. Still beats ‘The X-Factor’ I guess.

Keaton plays Jonathan Rivers, a successful architect with a pretty author wife. He has an unnecessarily complicated marital situation with an unfeasible young ex-wife but I guess this was used so that his annoying child didn’t have to be there all the time.

Anyway, the wife reveals she’s up the duff and her book is about to be published these happy news items can only mean one thing - immediate death! True enough, after a late night waiting up for the wayward wife Keaton finds that her car has been found missing and she is presumed drowned in the river - Rivers by name… After a few days of unconvincing worry he heads back to work but spots fatty Ian McNeice trailing him - maybe he dropped some do-nuts - it isn’t made clear.

He confronts the slobby stalker only to be told the wife is dead and he has messages from the other side. Keaton clearly hasn’t read the script and tells him to bugger off but soon after the cops turn up with the body. We flash-forward six months and Michael is trying to make a new start. He is still hearing the static however and rather than bin the nylon shirts he heads over to McNiece’s house - and doesn’t even take a pie.

McNiece reveals what we the viewer already know that dead people can communicate using the medium of static - well we did get to see the trailer. The slovenly psychic plays Keaton a few crackly snippets that convince him so much that he’s soon using a Dixon’s gold card to fit out his house with a state of the art static observation unit. He also meets a fellow mourner who vouches for the obese occultist as he managed to find some crackles that sounded like someone she once knew.

Things develop quickly as every video tape reveals a new secret and sends Keaton across town to save some lives. He guesses his dead wife is directing him to people who are soon to die in the hope he can save them from their fate. This meddling doesn’t go unnoticed however and, despite being warned off by the world’s only genuine psychic, Keaton ploughs on. He better watch those three ominous shadows in the playback - they could develop in to some unconvincing CGI is he’s not careful!

‘White Noise’ is a decent high concept effort but essentially it’s just an updating of the ‘meddling with the Ouija board’ ‘B’ movie. Keaton has little charisma and his descent from loving husband to grieving widower to obsessed researcher barely lifts an eyebrow.

There were some interesting touches but no real scares and it was only the wait for the big reveal, that made no sense, that kept me watching. The constant hissing of the static screens was most annoying and I barely got beyond the opening credits due to this. The effects were poorly rendered with the three bogeymen looking about as threatening as a Bee-Gees reunion - there again…

The big showdown at the end upped the pace somewhat but I don’t think the outcome was earned with a tragic sacrifice looking more like a irresponsible wet floor. The full manifestations of the static was not explained and the bad guy was so unexpected a flashback was needed so we could say ‘oh it was that guy’.

The film had a couple of scares and some uncomfortable scenes but all in all it was a forgettable piece of undemanding trash that looks as dated as Keaton’s collection of VHS tapes.

Best Bit - Gonna have trouble getting those jeans off.
‘W’ Score 10/23

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