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:: White Noise

Let’s get one thing straight; Michael Keaton is a good actor but he needs to get a new agent. His appearances on the big screen are becoming increasingly scarce and when he does show up it is usually in something so awful (First Daughter, Jack Frost, Desperate Measures) that you can almost see him reaching for the paycheque as the credits roll. Keaton’s major assets have always been his quirkiness, tightly coiled intensity and unpredictability. Whether he’s doing drama or comedy, you watch because you want to see if all that bound energy will suddenly burst forth in a scene. White Noise starts off well, but a lack of imagination and completely woeful third act means that not even Keaton’s sincere, focussed performance can save it.

The story concerns itself with the supposedly widely practiced process of EVP - Electronic Voice Phenomenon. That is, communicating with the dead through ordinary household appliances such as radios and televisions. Keaton plays architect Jonathon Rivers, whose wife dies in mysterious circumstances. When a stranger arrives and tells him that he has been receiving messages from her through the process of EVP, he becomes obsessed with it. Of course, it isn’t long before the messages he receives through the static in his television begin to warn him of other imminent deaths at the hands of a serial killer (which the movies would have you believe are as common as plumbers in every city in the world).

All this silliness wouldn’t be so bad if the script had at least attempted to put a new twist on what is essentially a run-of-the-mill ghost story. Initially all the TV static is an effectively eerie device, warping sounds and pictures and providing some genuine chills, but it quickly becomes tiresome when you realise that that’s all there is. When the film splutters and wheezes its way towards the finish line it smacks of desperation, forgoing any subtlety in favour of a spectacular, but brainless, conclusion.