If nothing else, the tepid horror film “White Noise” proves that the supernatural does exist and is currently running rampant in Hollywood, because nothing in the real world could have persuaded talent like Michael Keaton (“Batman”) to make this movie.
“White Noise” is based on a relatively fresh idea, Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), which affirms the ability of the dead to communicate with the living by speaking through the static of televisions and radios. It shouldn’t be hard to craft an exciting thriller from such a novel premise — just throw in a few jumps, a couple gallons of blood and a basic twist ending and you’ve got yourself a respectable horror movie. No one’s expecting the second coming of “The Exorcist.” But about the only scary thing about this film is the immense amount of talent and energy wasted by director Geoffrey Sax (“Sleepers”).
One of the film’s only redeeming qualities is Keaton’s performance as a grieving husband who’s driven to contact his recently-deceased wife. Swimming in an ocean of bad lines, he keeps his head above water with a halfway compelling effort. Another high point is the respectable cinematography, which has an oddly jarring effect that could have been scary if the film had any substance.
Most of all, the pacing is off. The first three- quarters of the movie are void of chills and thrills, probably because they’re all packed into the last 20 minutes. The filmmakers were clever enough to include a twist at the end, but unfortunately the twist is mundane and predicable. When the credits roll, the first reaction by some may be that the ill-conceived ending ruined the movie. By the time the lights come up, it’s obvious that the film had already ruined itself long before the ending.
Part of the movie’s aim is to convince viewers that EVP is legit. Of course, like just about everything else, it doesn’t work. And after this movie, even if EVP is real and currently being practiced in the basements of America, no one will care.
Despite all the evil electronics, “White Noise” wouldn’t be frightening even if watched in a Radio Shack. The film pales in comparison to horror classics like “The Shining,” falling to establish any true terror. If there had been more jumpy moments, maybe something would have been salvaged — at least you would have a reason to grab the hand of the girl next to you.