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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 2%
Just Average: 26%
Pretty Crappy: 27%

10 reviews, 40 user ratings

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White Noise
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by Jay Seaver

"Even the gullible will find this to be crap."
1 stars

When a movie starts with by quoting Thomas Edison, the audience can be forgiven for expecting a certain sort of rationality. Eidson, as a billboard near my apartment reminds me, founded the respected academic journal "Science", and contributed enormously to science and engineering. I suspect the quote, about a machine that allows the dead to communicate with the living, referenced the phonograph rather than the radio.

Telling a ghost story in a modern, technological setting is fraught with danger. The woods are scary; the old house has a history that long predates us. Televisions and radios, though, are familiar things over which we have control; when a movie shows them acting in a way outside our own experience, it takes a deft hand to make the audience think "my TV doesn't do that... freaky" rather than "that's stupid, my TV doesn't do that." You need to make the paranormal believable, which writer Niall Jonson fails to do.

For instance, early on, the mentor character (Ian McNeice) states that he's no medium, that "Electronic Voice Phenomenon" (EVP) is out there for anyone to see, but it requires patience, sifting through static recorded off different frequencies with the skill and patience of a SETI researcher, with a premium on being able to wring every last detail out of a recording on multiple passes. Less than five minutes later, though, Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) is getting phantom calls from his dead wife's cell phone and hearing a self-erasing message from her on his answering machine - the very opposite of how the audience has just been told things work!

(Speaking of how these things work, is the move toward HDTV and satellite radio cutting down on ghosts' abilities to contact people via EVP? When appearing as images in television static, do North American ghosts just naturally manifest in NTSC's 60Hz raster format while European ones appear as hidden PAL or SECAM images? If someone dies via strangulation, can they still communicate verbally via EVP? Do other people ask these questions?)

Setting aside the somewhat-necessarily absurdity necessary to tell a ghost story in the first place, the rest of the movie is pretty darn poor. In a short, ninety-minute movie, at least a full twenty is spent getting Keaton's character good and widowed (if his wife's apparent perfection doesn't mark her as doomed, the results of her pregnancy test certainly do). There's a son and ex-wife who are there for no particular reason but to show the depth of Rivers's obsession as he pulls away, but it doesn't quite work. And there are some pretty slow police officers in this unnamed Pacific Northwest town. Okay, so the death of Anna Rivers looks like an accident, although foul play is a possibility. They don't seem terribly suspicious when Rivers shows up near another corpse, though. Or another. Or...

Also, the audience is apparently supposed to make up their own explanation for how the movie ends. Though, to be fair, Rivers did consult with a palm reader who said he shouldn't be messing with EVP, because, y'know, laypeople aren't equipped to deal with dark forces the way legitimate psychics are. I didn't realize that there was training and certification.

The cast is mostly serviceable. Michael Keaton is an affable presence, although he sometimes seems to have as little idea of why his character is doing what he does as the audience does. I guess if a character's actions seem completely random, his emotional state should as well. Deborah Kara Unger plays a fellow believer, and she plays it a little straighter than Keaton. McNeice picks up a paycheck. Nobody really embarrasses themselves, but nobody rises above the material, either.

I readily admit that I think EVP and the like are better topics for "Penn & Teller: Bullshit!" than feature films, and a bit of text before the end credits giving statistics on "real life" EVP pretty much finished the job of rubbing me the wrong way that the movie started. But even if I didn't tend toward skepticism, this would still be a bad, bad movie.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11420&reviewer=371
originally posted: 01/07/05 16:13:11
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User Comments

9/19/13 Marmite I was 90% sure I hated this movie before the climax. I ended up 200% sure. 1 stars
4/10/10 Andrew, Amy and Gaelan shite, shite and more shite. The ending was terrible! I've never said WTF as much! 1 stars
11/27/09 Martin Smith I liked the concept but thought the characters were weak and pointless 3 stars
9/02/08 Shaun Wallner Ugg boring!! 2 stars
3/30/08 Raika Any chance those three ghosts can attack the director? 1 stars
10/23/07 Ivana Mann The ending was the biggest WTF moment in the history of American cinema.Absolute poo! 1 stars
8/19/06 Beau pointless scenes, lacked scary themes and trash that should neva have made it to the cinema 1 stars
8/13/06 Sharon its sucks!!! they should have never made this movie I wasted my time and $7!!! I hate it!! 1 stars
4/30/06 Ben W I was a bit clueless, I really wanted to know who the three ghosts were. 2 stars
3/26/06 Doremimi Would someone please cast Michael Keaton in a decent movie? This is getting ridiculous. 1 stars
1/27/06 chris f good movie worth watching 4 stars
1/02/06 Wiseman it was good half of the begining, But what the hell was the end all about? dumb as hell! 1 stars
11/06/05 Count Blah I want the wasted time back. I could have slept instead. . . . 1 stars
9/19/05 Mickey This is like watching a foreign film with no subtitles!! 1 stars
9/01/05 Teh Gret one I really didn't get it....so who was the guy in the chicken suit? Poo movie LOL111111111111 1 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Poltigeist treated this subject more effectively, but it has it's moments. 3 stars
7/05/05 Indrid Cold The story is somewhat weak and unsatisfying, but not bad overall. 3 stars
7/02/05 kanga311 It totally left me hanging. Glad I didn't spend $10 at the theater to see it! 2 stars
6/08/05 camille What was that about? 2 stars
6/07/05 Darryl Watched this same night as "Boogeyman" and this wasn't as scary. 3 stars
6/05/05 Monday Morning Don't waste your time except to ogle Deborah Unger, an ultrababe if I ever saw one. 1 stars
5/24/05 Bart michael keaton is THIS desperate?? I mean..did he even READ the absurd ending? Kill me now! 2 stars
5/24/05 Doug Awfully done, yet by the end you'll be too ANGRY to laugh at it. 2 stars
5/22/05 Victor Meldrew What the hell was that ending all about?! I just didn't understand it! 1 stars
5/22/05 Tammy Horrible film too confusing to be interesting 1 stars
5/20/05 Christy Schultz Look at all the time I will never get back 1 stars
5/19/05 wendy rogers This movie started out ok and then the ending got alittle crazy. It was ok overall. 3 stars
5/18/05 ad could be worse i guess 2 stars
4/15/05 shatonjia Am I allowed to sue for false advertising on a movie preview? 1 stars
2/07/05 Richard Linxwiler Liked it, a scary movie with an actual plot. 4 stars
2/06/05 Real This was a really bad movie. The end totally sucks. 1 stars
1/29/05 Christine It was an okay movie 3 stars
1/29/05 clarance the cobra LICKS BALLS 1 stars
1/27/05 New Jersey Rules There hasn't been a good horror movie since The Blair Witch. 1 stars
1/13/05 Al Guy Not scary. The ad was scarier. 2 stars
1/10/05 Aaron Brown Has its flaws but is still an okay movie. 3 stars
1/09/05 Steve Michaud Staggeringly inept; devoid of chills, atmosphere, logic, or entertainment value 1 stars
1/08/05 Meryl As a student of EVP...this made me weep. Television static? WTF? 2 stars
1/07/05 Kristina Williams Batman sees dead people 3 stars
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  07-Jan-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-May-2005



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