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  White Noise
Geoffrey Sax, UK / Canada, 2005
Rating: 1.9

Posted: January 13, 2005

White Noise deals with the subject of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), a process by which the dead communicate with the living through radio or television signals (I think you have to have digital cable to get them, though) and relay messages through television screens filled with static. However, there is another phenomenon at work here called POS, also known as Piece Of. well, you can fill in the blank. The makers of this film suckered the C-Man on this one, kind reader. I was just so desperate for a spooky, supernatural flick that I was blinded by the slick advertisements and commercials. Man, it just seemed like an awesome premise. I should have been wary of any film that opens in the elephant's graveyard that is January. To say that I was wrong does not do justice to the soul violation that is this film.

Here's the, uh, plot: After Michael Keaton's wife dies, she contacts some portly dude via EVP, and in turn the portly dude seeks out Keaton to share the creepy news. Soon, Keaton's character is obsessed with EVP, buying computers and televisions to try to make communication with his departed wife, and basically sitting and watching days upon days of static. The premise here is that if your loved ones can reach you, so too can the "others." The "others," in this case, would be your run-of-the-mill evil spirits, personified here by three shadowy figures that show up from time to time in the static.

Soon, the portly dude gets waxed by the evil spirits, and Keaton (dude, what were you thinking?) starts getting messages from people who aren't dead yet! I can't help but recall a line from a Chris Rock concert when he was talking about dudes who have a GED. When the parents of the GED pupil declared that he could now go to college, Rock simply replied, "Slow down." That's what I felt like telling the makers of this film: Yo, slow down! You ain't even made the case for your little ghost story flick, and now the main character is some sort of a superhero getting supernatural "bat signals" for help in the static on his TV. Damn!

Too much time is wasted revealing the wife's death. Note to the director: It could have started with the wife's death! We all know she croaked, okay? Get on with it. Then the film goes to great lengths to show you the three shadowy figures from time to time, but never does anything much with them. They should have been the focus of the film, the undesirable consequence of a marvelous discovery. Instead they just appear in the static from time to time and cast their shadows near those who have been marked for death, those that appear in peril on Keaton's TV. Pick a story, why don't ya? Develop something. Go somewhere.

White Noise is a lot like staring into a static-filled television screen -- only not as rewarding, 'cause you can stare at your TV screen for free. I stared at the exit sign, counted the number of seats in the first row, and even started to wonder when I'd get my W2 form in the mail. Needless to say, this film ain't exactly an attention grabber. This was the longest hour and a half, or two hours (it felt more like five) I've ever been subjected to. I swear it had the fatigue factor of The Ten Commandments. I felt like when I finally emerged from the theatre, that the seasons had changed, I had grown a beard, and apes now ruled the earth.

White Noise is indisputable proof that the opposite of the phrase "time flies when you're having fun" is true. Time actually stops. A dude watching static on TV can only go so far, okay? Forget about the horrible story -- you're willing to go along with it, as long as it ends! But this film just does not work on any level. At best, this is like a made-for-TV movie you could catch on TNT on a Thursday night at 11:30 pm.

When it was over, the whole audience just seemed drugged and thankful to leave. That's never a good sign. Trust me on this one. If you're intrigued by the idea of EVP, stay at home at watch a channel of static or talk to your toaster or something -- anything. But don't go see White Noise. Time is precious. I lost some that I'll never be able to reclaim. Don't make the same mistake.

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 Clemenza's Ratings Key:

 5.0: A drop of bliss

 4.0-4.9: Touchdown!
 3.0-3.9: Close, but...
 2.0-2.9: Box of Rocks
 1.1-1.9: Time bandit
 0.0-1.0: Soul scarring
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