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White Noise (2005)

The dead are trying to get a hold of you.

Directed by:

Geoffrey Sax

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 101 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

Country: Canada, United Kingdom, United States

Those of you still having a hard enough time trying to receive Channel 5 are likely to be a bit peeved by what Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) can do with his TV in techy age ghost story ‘White Noise’. You see, not only can he pick up the full range of channels from his swanky apartment without even having to twiddle with the aerial, but he’s able to communicate with the dead. Woooo – “spooky, possums,” as Dame Edna Everage used to say (and, for all I know, still does).

It all starts when his missus (Chandra West) snuffs it under mysterious circumstances, and a fat bloke (Ian McNiece) visits him soon afterwards with a message from beyond the grave. And it’s not the content of this message that’s interesting, as much as the novel way this chubster came to receive it: that is, through a poorly-tuned TV set.

Electronic Voice Phenomena – or “EVP” for short – might sound like a cracking name for a New Order tribute act, but it’s actually a fairly popular way of contacting the dead these days (what’s wrong with a good ol’ fashioned Ouija Board, eh?). Fascinated by how easy it apparently is to climb aboard the EVP gravy train, it’s not long before Jonathan himself has started spending his every waking hour staring gawp-mouthed into a snowy TV picture with the sort of rigid determination normally reserved solely for those attempting to view the naughty channels without paying. But what happens when the messages coming through from the “other side” are less than complimentary?

‘White Noise’ isn’t exactly a movie that’s going to be remembered as one of the greats of the horror genre. Some of director Geoffrey Sax’s techniques are a little less than subtle, and there’s certainly nothing particularly original about his approach to the material. Also, as is so often the case with such paranormal chillers, it builds up its premise well but eventually hits a brick wall where the inexplicable nature of its subject matter leaves it with nowhere credible to go.

Problems or not, Keaton’s serious-but-likable approach makes him the perfect choice for the lead role. Many movie fans – myself included – had feared his star had fizzled out, and that his days as a bankable name were well behind him. But his performance here is spot on, and reminded me of just how watchable a performer he is when on top of his game.

As for whether or not it’s actually scary? Well, I attended this screening with a mate of mine – a grown man, I might add – who, after almost jumping out of his seat on at least three separate occasions, eventually had to leave the theatre for “a cold drink” with a good twenty minutes of the film still left to run. You could make your mind up from that – or, even better, take a trip to see it and find out for yourself. Personally, I wasn’t disappointed.

It's Got: Broadband-friendly spooks.

It Needs: A stronger, more open-ended, finale.

Summary

Michael Keaton’s back! And, somewhat worryingly, he’s been grabbed by the ghoulies.

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