Pretty weak horror flick. Keaton is at his worst here!
Finally, some restraint!
Jonathan Appleseed | 01/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is a pleasant surprise to walk into a movie expecting to dislike it, and to leave the theater satisfied.
Having read some of the reviews on this site, as well as some professional reviewers, I think they've missed the point of this film entirely. Reviewers on this site have also gotten their facts wrong. For example, Keaton has been in three movies since Jack Frost (yes, I agree that film was a disaster), and he served as the Executive Producer on another.
Jonathan Rivers' (Keaton) wife dies in a car accident and like all husbands who adore their wives, he grieves. One day he sees a man sitting in an SUV across the street from his house, and when he gets to work that same day, the man is sitting on a bench across the street. Rivers rushes out to ask why he is following him, and the man introduces himself as Raymond Price (Ian McNeice). Price claims that Keaton's wife has passed over, and that she has communicated with him. Rivers immediately dismisses this, but Price leaves him with a card, asking that he keep it.
The movie skips ahead six months, and we find Rivers moving into a new apartment. Unlike the home he shared with his wife, it is forbidding and cold: the walls are either blocked glass or grey cement.
Then he receives a phone call on his cell, and the "name" that comes up is "Anna's Cell". He rushes home and pulls out the bag of effects that the police gave him from the crash; one of the items therein is Anna's cell phone. It's off. Then he receives another call, this one while he is holding Anna's cell phone, and it too is from "Anna's Cell".
One morning at 2:30 the beeping of his answering machine awakens him. He gets out of bed and finds that there is one message. He plays it, and it is garbled with static.
These oddities are enough to cause Rivers to contact Price, and Rivers is introduced to the world of EVP, a phenomenon whereby one can receive messages from loved ones that have passed on through recorded white noise, and sometimes cause images on a monitor. Price has, literally, hundreds of video tapes and recordings, and he plays Rivers the voice of his wife, which, I believe, said something along the lines of "I love you John". With the white noise, it was hard to tell. Here's the first possibility of a "gaping plot hole" - Rivers immediately believes it is real, and becomes obsessed with getting to the next level of communication: seeing her face on a television screen. I have to agree that I thought he bought into it a little too quickly; however, hearing the voice of one's dead spouse can evoke emotions that make a person do things they normally wouldn't. As a person who has lost a spouse, trust me on this, I know.
Before Rivers is able to get to the next level Price winds up dead, all of his monitors and audio equipment (of which there was a considerable amount) destroyed, with Price buried underneath them.
This causes Rivers to set up a station of his own in his home, where he all too quickly develops a tremendous facility with highly advanced equipment. That may be another gaping plot hole, but it's forgivable. Do we really want to see Rivers poring through training manuals and teaching himself how to use this equipment? Of course not. *That* would be boring and unessential to the plot.
Assisting him is a client of Price's that he met when he first visited, Sarah Tate (Deborah Karah Unger). The more time Rivers spends with his own equipment, the more obsessed he becomes, to the point of having his ex-wife watch their son for longer periods, to flatly ignoring his son when he has physical custody. (That's unforgivable, but understandable when caught in the throes of an obsession.)
After a frustrating amount of time where nothing happens, suddenly he starts receiving messages from his wife. They're no longer the simple I Love You messages, but are instructive, telling him to go to certain places to save people.
This is where the movie gets interesting, because this is where the horror element kicks into high gear - and this is where I gained tremendous respect for the film. We had already received hints of external interference (apparitions), and we start to see more of them. There were several scenes where typical cheap horror frights could have been inserted just to get someone to squeal, but the director showed tremendous restraint, and for that I have great respect for him.
The ending was a complete surprise, and a very satisfying one, as it doesn't end like virtually every standard, schlock horror movie - which our country seems to produce as quickly as rabbits procreate. You don't need to be a genius, but you need to think about the ending, and remember bits of what has happened earlier in the film. If you don't pay attention, you'll miss it, and it might make the entire film seem irrelevant. But if you do pay attention, and you understand what is going on (I'll just say this: pay close attention to the fact that in the final sequence there is a set of monitors *just like Price and Rivers had* - and what could that possibly be for), it makes for a very clever ending.
The dénouement is touching, although the final view the movie presented to us was unnecessary, and almost qualified as a stupid horror movie ruse, which this movie avoided almost entirely. Thankfully.
I thought to myself as I left the theater: finally, a horror movie whose main goal wasn't to make me hop out of my seat through cheap tricks, is well filmed, well acted, and directed with subtlety instead of a ham handed hammer and a bag full of tricks. "
White Noise is an entertaining movie that falls a bit short
Porfie Medina | Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA | 01/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw White Noise this past weekend and I thought it was entertaining. I thought this movie was better than The Grudge and the suspense kept me interested in the movie almost the entire time. What really caught my attention about this movie was when I saw the commercial mentioning Ruth Baxter and how the dead can communicate with us through EVP (Electrical Voice Phenomenon). Sadly to say the commercial was misleading since this movie did not go very far in to the EVP pheomomenon. White Noise got bad reviews from many critics but despite the negativity it did a great job the first weekend of its release opening in a very immpresive #2 with 24 Million dollars. To me this movie was entertaining and not half as bad as what the critics would expect you to believe. This is only rated PG-13 so it is not going to be as scary as you might think, but it is a good movie that is worth watching."
Scary, but horribly plot-holed.
hallospacegirl | 01/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"PLOT: After Jonathan's wife dies in a car crash, a man comes to Jonathan telling him that he can contact the spirit of his wife through EVP. (EVP is when images and sounds of the dead come through on electronic devices, such as on blank radio or TV stations.) Initially resistant to this, Jonathan finally hears some garbled messages from his wife, and decides to contact her further. He sets up a multi-TV/VCR/radio station in his apartment, and attempts to seek her. But the messages he receives include the image of three shady looking figures, and then he begins getting images on the TV of people not yet dead...
MY THOUGHTS: If you're looking for a movie to scare the daylights out of you, White Noise just might do the job. However, most of its scares relies on "BOO!" moments: BANG! A screaming face pops into the calmly fuzzing white noise on the TV. BOOM! A freight truck cuts in front of Jonathan's minivan.
While the scares are mostly effective, they get tiring after a while. The atmosphere of the movie is clean and bright instead of eerie and haunting, and when it's over, you're left with the feeling that you've suffered through ten or twelve heart attacks, but with no real spooky chills down your spine.
The plot is greatly flawed, suffering from a VERY slow and boring beginning and a rushed ending that fails to explain what exactly happened to the characters. Lots of aspects of the plot (the three shadowy figures, for instance) are left dangling. Also, certain aspects of the EVP images require a suspension of disbelief: Like, how do they appear on the screen? Who frames these shots? A ghost cameraman?
I gave this movie 3 stars because it does what it's required to do: to scare you, even though it did use cheap scares to do it. I docked 2 stars off due to the movie's inconsistent pacing, thin atmosphere, and unanswered questions at the end."
The movie is AWESOME!
Chel | right here | 02/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was a great movie. It kept me in suspense the whole movie and that's what thrillers are all about. I admit, it was a little hard to understand, but after I pieced everything together, I figured it out. I think everybody who thinks it's a waste of time is WRONG. I highly recommend going to see this movie."
More noise, less cliche
J. A. Bellamy | Dallas, TX USA | 02/06/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"White Noise tells the story of widower Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) who is contacted by his late wife using EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). The opening scene is a by the book `meet the happy family' moment that turns sour when Jonathan's wife goes missing. Barring one rather confusing and unexplained plot twist, this formula thriller is as predictable as they come. Like in other slow ghostly suspense films, most recently The Others, Sax tries to characterize his settings as co-conspirators. What he ends up with is about forty minutes of location footage that should have stayed in the scouting binder. Interestingly, Jonathan Rivers is an architect, and there are numerous aerial establishing shots that mirror those small cardboard plans that architects hover over, and the attention Sax lavishes onto Rivers' waterfront home and apartment home borders on the obsessive. Clearly, there was some intent in all this, perhaps to establish `everything' as haunted and ominous, but it fails. Michael Keaton stumbles through the film like a zombie, hitting his lines near the mark if not directly on. His performance is only dull because the character is dull. He falls into the same horror movie traps as they all do, backing into rooms for no reason, persisting ahead despite strange noises and terrible tidings. As a result, White Noise does offer up a few scares. I'll leave the details of the one plot twist out so as not to spoil it for anyone dead set on seeing this film, but like I mentioned before, it doesn't make sense once you think it out. If checking your brain at the door and slow paced suspense films are your cup of tea, then there are worse ways to spend two hours than White Noise, but not many. Sadly, on DVD all the fun cheap scares will be subdued, so if you must see this, try to see it on the big screen. "