My parents saw this movie and they gave me a complete report. It wasn’t much, but it basically said that they were not that big a fans of this film. So, I went into it thinking that they had to have had White Noise all wrong. I mean, it’s a Michael Keaton movie. The guy is great. One of America’s best actors. He can play both serious and comic. He can be good and bad. In short, he has a huge range. Well, after screening this movie, I realized that Michael Keaton isn’t the problem. In fact, he is quite good. He plays a man trying to remain in contact with his dead wife quite well. I believed everything he did. At no point did he seem like he was phoning in his performance at all. In fact, while watching this movie I kept trying to figure out why this terrific performer doesn’t get more roles? In my mind, he has always been an A-List actor.
White Noise is neither going to help or hurt Mr. Keaton in his career. I just didn’t get this movie. I found it to be confusing, muddled and I was almost incapable of getting into the story. The main reason why I kept watching is because I am such a huge fan of Keaton’s work. Even while playing a father, grieving for his wife and finding solace in trying to make contact with her through White Noise(he records it and goes through it with a fine tooth comb on his CPU), I was with him every step of the way. Sadly, I just found this movie to be disjointed and jumbled. It seems like one of those movies where the script was probably really good when the preproduction process started out, and by the time that production wrapped it wasn’t anything that the writer’s remembered. I don’t know who is to blame for this, as I don’t think anybody sets out to make a bad movie, but I have some suspicions where to lay this blame.
What I find to be really interesting is that I have a friend who loved this movie. He seemed to completely “get it”. So maybe this whole thing really is subjective? Maybe I needed to watch it in a theater? I don’t know but there has to be some weird explanation for why I didn’t like this movie more then I did. I am not one of those people who needs everything explained to them, and maybe had this not been a studio movie but some type of “art” film from a Universal Specialty division then I would have appreciated it more. As it stands, I found White Noise making me wonder how I got so confused? Was it my fault? The movie’s fault?
One thing is for sure...it wasn’t Michael Keaton’s fault.
Making Contact: EVP Experts
EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena. Apparently, there are a lot of people doing what Michael Keaton is doing in the movie. These experts talk about how it is done, they play us samples and I found the whole thing to be nothing less then intriguing. I think that to write something like this off as weird is to not do it justice. These people don’t seem like crackpots and furthermore they seem to be on to something. Whether it is really what they think it is, or just noises that they psychologically are making themselves hear is open to debate. At the very least, this featurette is worth a look
Recording the After Life at Home
This is pretty cool. We get to see how, for about $30(if you don’t own a tape recorder and microphone), you can make contact with the deceased. If you have a bit more money, you can buy a recorder that only records when there is a noise thus saving you the time of having to scroll through audio cassettes. However, to the tech savvy, all you need is a tape recorder, a cheap microphone, a mini-jack cable($15) and you can put your recordings in your CPU, download a free sound program and just go to town amplifying and examining your After Life recordings.
Hearing is Believing: Actual EVP Sessions
This featurette is pretty similar to the Making Contact featurette, although it focuses on one place in LA and another place in Chicago that EVP sessions were held. Fans of this kind of stuff are going to really love it.
About 10 minutes worth of scenes that were taken out of this movie for one reason or another. Nothing too special here and I sadly didn’t find anything that helped me understand this movie anymore then I already do. Still, I am sure that fans of EVP and fans of this movie will enjoy this extra look into the character that Michael Keaton so readily embodies. In fact, I don’t know that I have ever seen him bad in a movie. The movie itself may not be great but he always turns in solid work.
The version I screened of this was Full Framed. I didn’t notice any big moments of pan and scan and on the whole the picture was quite clear and crisp. This movie is edited in such a way that when it’s scary, the screams are supposed to jolt you out of your seat, and when it is normal the mood of the film runs at a somewhat flatline pace. This isn’t to say that I was bored, but I certainly think that White Noise could have been better served if it hadn’t been one of those movies in which the inner workings of the character seem to have poured out on to the screen. The setting, which is mainly Keaton’s home, has a dyspeptic almost unlived in quality. I will say this, at no point in watching this movie did I ever figure out the ending. I sort of did a little bit but at the end of the day, I don’t think I got this movie at all. I think it is one of those pieces that happily lives in the world of the supernatural, and therefore doesn’t mind if things don’t really get tied up because for something like this that is not the point. I champion this type of filmmaking in many instances but in the case of White Noise I just didn’t think that it rang true.
Dolby Sound. The pace and feel of this movie is almost like a silent film. Yet, when the scares do happen the sound rushes through the speakers forcing you to acknowledge what the character is acknowledging. The imagery in this movie combined with the audio was what made this film scary. My problem with this film had nothing to do with it not being scary, it’s mood and tone were fine for the piece, but actually it was more a case of the story. I don’t like getting into storylines too much, whether this was believable or that was believable simply because what I believe, you might not believe and vice versa. Lets just say that the sound works. It does what it needs to do in terms of executing the required thrills and chills. There aren’t that many of them, and when you combine that with a story that really doesn’t go too many places, I think this is where we ultimately end up having problems. I had to turn my TV up a little louder but that was because when the characters speak it was almost in a whisper. Other then that, the sound design is where it needs to be.
Very cool packaging. The face of someone is made up out of the type of noise you get on a TV station that isn’t coming in. This packaging almost saves the movie. There is so much black on this cover and that adds a tone all it’s own. It is very minimalist, the way it shows the image, the title and Michael Keaton’s name. I really have to say that packaging on a title like this is everything, and I would not be surprised if White Noise ends up doubling what it took in at the box office simply because of how it looks. As I have mentioned in other reviews, 90% of the reason why people rent movies has to do with the packaging. Just take one look at this cover, with the eery image and picture and you’ll know what I mean. In fact, something tells me we are going to see this title spun off as a straight to video release. In fact, I have an idea if anybody cares to hear it...
White Noise isn’t the worst movie that I have ever seen, I just didn’t think that it was very good. As it is a Michael Keaton vehicle, I was expecting it to be a lot better. I was hoping his performance alone would be enough for me to love this film. Sadly, it was not. The story just didn’t make any sense to me. I wasn’t able to put things together in a coherent pattern in which I could make sense of them. I kept wondering if I missed something, if I had the sound too low, if maybe I am not that bright(which could be the answer).
Either way, rent this movie if you have any interest in listening to white noise, hearing sounds and trying to make contact with the dead. I don’t know whether I do or do not believe in this stuff, but I can respect any supplemental materials that show you how to make contact with people in the afterlife.
Don't forget to check out Hollow Voices...
White Noise was released January 7, 2005.