johnlink ranks WHITE NOISE (2005)

It’s not a good sign when you’ve seen a movie which is only 8 years old, but can remember nothing at all about it. On the one hand, it wasn’t good enough to make an impression. Though, on the other hand, it wasn’t so terrible as to brand a black mark in your brain. It’s October. In October we watch horror movies we would otherwise pass by. At least I do. I should probably just switch over to watching GOOD horror movies in October.


I watched WHITE NOISE (2005) on 10.22.13. It was my second viewing of the film. I know I’ve seen it once before but have absolutely no recollection of the circumstances surrounding that viewing. It is THAT memorable.

Michael Keaton mails in a performance as Jonathan Rivers. Rivers has lost his wife, but soon learns he can communicate with the dead by recording white noise onto VHS tapes. As the movie proceeds to lose its grip on reality the longer it goes on, Keaton seems less and less interested in being involved. His Jon is peppy and engaging to start, distant and blank at film’s end.

The opening of this movie starts off in a promising way. After a creepy opening credits sequence, the score becomes something out of a 60s comedy. It’s all airy and light, as Jon floats through life. When tragedy hits, the movie turns darker. The tone and ambiance of the film seems to be hitting the right notes, even if it does skip down a timeline in a way which doesn’t fully reveal Jon’s growing pathos. Sadly, though, it feels like the movie is in neutral for too long. It revs up a bit for a post-car-crash scene before stalling out again. It never recovers, never really pounces. Not helping is the fact that the shadowy villains are the most faceless and generic bad guys in horror movie history.

WHITE NOISE isn’t terrible. It’s silly, it’s not as scary as it thinks it is. It makes crazy assumptions like presenting us with a scenario in which anyone can talk to ghosts if they just record white noise long enough. There is no magic trick, no specific circumstances. Just: Do you have the will to buy enough VHS tapes and stare long enough.

The establishing shots are pretty. The jumps scares are good when they finally come (one with a woman banging on the inside of a TV is particularly solid). It just doesn’t add up to anything. The ending aims to shock, but instead just results in shrugs.

There is a good and interesting script left on a floor somewhere which could probably do this story justice. This isn’t it. Instead, everything plays out in an uninspired and mundane way. Two or three surprises at key moments keep us guessing long enough to avoid shutting it off. But, ultimately, WHITE NOISE ends up becoming just what its title implies.





~ by johnlink00 on October 23, 2013.

4 Responses to “johnlink ranks WHITE NOISE (2005)”

  1. I have no re-collection of this film either and I know I watched it once a ways back. I may give it a re-visit since I do enjoy Keaton’s work. Did you see White Noise 2? I’ve read it was actually decent. Good job on the review!

  2. Silly would be how I felt after I walked out of the theatres in ’05. Other than that, I don’t really remember much. I didn’t even remember Keaton was in it..haha! Great review 🙂

    • Thanks! This is the most non-Keaton Keaton film there is. With the precious few movies he has done this century, it is a shame that this is one of them.

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