Whatever color, this boring film noisy

  • By Christy Lemire / Associated Press
  • Thursday, January 6, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

White noise is intended to help you fall asleep. “White Noise” would never let you do that.

It’s far too interested in a cacophony of cheap scares: otherworldly screeches, deafening bursts from the radio and a nearly nonstop, buzzing din of television snow.

The title sequence, a harbinger of things to come, is one of those seizure-inducing, don’t-adjust-your-TV-set montages of blips and blasts and zig-zaggy lines, possibly in preparation for the movie’s arrival on cable, which should be happening right … about … now.

Michael Keaton stars as the recipient of these supernatural sounds after his wife, Anna (Chandra West) dies in a mysterious accident.

Keaton’s character, architect Jonathan Rivers, had just learned that Anna was pregnant. The couple already shared a fabulous waterfront existence with their young son.

Then Anna disappears and is replaced by sudden sounds, like the piercing ring of a cell phone and an indecipherable answering machine message. Soon afterward a portly man named Raymond (Ian McNeice) shows up at Jonathan’s office and insists that Anna has been trying to communicate with him through the television.

Jonathan is naturally skeptical. His wife was a writer, not a broadcaster. How did she learn to master the airwaves from the great beyond? And if she really wanted to be heard clearly, couldn’t she have reached out using high-definition TV?

After hearing Anna’s voice at Raymond’s audiovisual tech-geek lab, though, Jonathan not only becomes a believer, he becomes obsessed. He sits around the house all day in a robe, like Keaton’s “Mr. Mom” character, recording hours of TV snow. Ultimately he gets that crazed look in his eyes, like the one Keaton used to such great comic effect in “Beetlejuice,” only here he’s unintentionally funny.

And for some strange reason, the script from Niall Johnson has Jonathan sending his son away to live with other grown-ups in order to spend more time sitting in front of the television.

The kid probably would have been bored, anyway. “White Noise” is as tedious and repetitive as it sounds.

Director Geoffrey Sax seems to want to embrace the romantic idea of reaching out to a long-lost loved one, yet he can’t seem to resist going for the easy, gimmicky scares.

Besides, we’ve already seen this paranormal territory covered more effectively in the unusually successful American remake of “The Ring” and, long before that, in the truly scary “Poltergeist.”

“White Noise” H

It’s just noise: Michael Keaton is a widower whose late wife is trying to communicate with him through annoying so-called white noise in this sub-par thriller.

Rated: PG-13 rating is for violence and language.

Now showing: tk

“White Noise” H

It’s just noise: Michael Keaton is a widower whose late wife is trying to communicate with him through annoying so-called white noise in this sub-par thriller.

Rated: PG-13 rating is for violence and language.

Now showing: Everett 9, Galaxy, Grand, Marysville, Mountlake, Stanwood, Pacific Place, Woodinville, Cascade.

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