|It was a rather unfortunate choice that brought Michael Keaton to the screen to star in White Noise, a drab excuse for a thriller in which the major drawing point is the time at which the closing credits start to roll. A convoluted and sometimes wandering film, the interesting topic of EVP, or "Electronic Voice Phenomenon" is encased in an all too familiar shell of a plot. It's possible the writers made the plot twists less than surprising so that the main focus of the movie would be the EVP, not the story itself.|
But what they failed to realize is that in creating a ho-hum series of events for the audience to follow, they've neglected the requirement of creating characters that engage the audience's emotions. Interesting and multi-faceted character development is the real thing that makes a film an interesting experience. Seeing Linda Hamilton come to blows with The Terminator isn't nearly as fun if you don't care about her. And it's difficult to become emotionally invested in the destiny of the protagonist. Or even the antagonist.
It's well within the realm of possible to allow the audience to find favor with the person giving the hero a run for his money. But that's not the case with this film. The writers definitely want viewers to find themselves wrapped up in the dire circumstances of Michael Keaton's "Jonathan Rivers," a recently widowed man who becomes obsessed with Electronic Voice Phenomenon. And it's difficult to watch Keaton try so hard to pick this film up out of its doldrums. It's like he's trying to play a dramatic, touching role in a film whose main focus is on creating some sort of horrified reaction in the viewer.
But the "spooks" in the film aren't really that eerie. Possibly only the most high strung of individuals would be taken over by the film's attempts at suspense, but it's almost like the horror takes a holiday at certain points in the film. Sometimes the movie becomes more of an investigation into EVP than a film designed to scare the wits off the viewer. And perhaps the director was not aiming to create a truly horrific film anyway. Certainly it's not a slasher flick or a low budget scream fest filled with scantily clad females and burly yet unintelligent men.
In fact, the film's beginning sets the stage for what could have been an enjoyable and interesting experience for moviegoers, but the slower than average pace displays not thoughtfulness, but more the misjudgment of what would create a type of foreboding tension between the characters. As if attempting to create a certain pensive atmosphere for protagonist, the filmmakers have actually succeeded in making the movie somewhat too methodical in its quieter moments.
There are some efforts made by the writers to explore the psychological effects of a spouse's death on an individual, and Michael Keaton has the experience necessary to take as much character development as is possible from the script. But White Noise is not a film that has on glaring error that prevents it from being a simple, enjoyable ride at the movies. It has just a few too many smaller errors that add up to create a film that seems to have been cobbled together from too many different genres and styles.
Although the idea of EVP is presented in an interesting set-up in the beginning of the film, that interesting base and the investigation of the phenomenon are forgotten in lieu of presenting something stylish to the viewers that makes more of an impression on your eyes than it does your mind. And this approach is hard to reconcile with the beginning of the film when some interesting ideas are presented.
At its core, there are some worthy ideas and creative filmmaking choices made in White Noise, but sometimes it seems as though too many cooks were in the kitchen for this one. The film is solidly made and reflects a talented technical crew in areas such as cinematography, editing, and sound design, but when the plot and story aren't presented in as equally a creative fashion, the efforts put forth by the folks behind the camera aren't enough to save the picture from what it lacks in front of it. This is not a slur on star Michael Keaton's thespian abilities, but more of a comment on some of the apparent miscommunication between the plot and story and how the movie was eventually put together.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.