While many films stand the test of time, others fade into obscurity. Whether this happens over a period of years or almost instantly upon a film’s release, each of these titles has slipped through the cracks of our collective memory to join the ranks of the Films That Time Forgot.
The horror genre is somewhat fickle. There’s a specific deceptive subtlety required to make a truly good horror movie. Even though all horror tends to possess a certain set of qualities, some films are just scarier and more interesting than others.
Despite the fact that Michael Keaton stars alongside a handful of recognizable character actors, the 2005 supernatural horror White Noise is a film that quickly became lost in the static (if you’ll pardon the horrendously unfunny pun). It follows the blandly named John Rivers following the abrupt death of his wife as he becomes obsessed with recording messages communicated through E.V.P. (electronic voice phenomena) which he believes are from his late wife, Anna. However, the spirit world is also home to some dangerous beings, and they seem to have a vested interest in the world of the living.
White Noise Can’t Cut Through The Static Of Its Own Mundane Plot
White Noise is every bit as bland as it sounds. It’s a pretty standard premise, but it does even less with it than one would imagine, which should go some way toward explaining exactly why this film has been all but forgotten. Primarily, White Noise‘s biggest sin is how criminally uninteresting it is, thanks entirely to a story so dull it’s likely to induce sleep (much as its title implies).
That isn’t to say that it doesn’t try to inject a little intrigue, but nothing it attempts really manages to land. Its characters are all written to be relatively two-dimensional, making all of their respective actions and decisions entirely predictable. White Noise‘s attempt at a third-act twist is practically laughable, particularly as it makes use of a character glimpsed only briefly in an early scene. Its attempts to outsmart the audience are so ill-conceived that it actively hurts almost every aspect of White Noise.
One of White Noise‘s other failings is far easier to forgive. The nature of its premise means that it relies heavily on the use of technology which has since become obsolete, rendering the film itself something of a relic. However, it’s worth noting that the extensive use of VHS tapes is particularly odd, as White Noise was released in 2005, which was years after the rise of the DVD. Regardless of the specifics, White Noise wasn’t ever going to be a film truly able to stand the test of time, because it relies so strongly on ideas and technologies that simply aren’t as relevant today.
As well as a relatively tedious plot with few redeeming qualities, White Noise feels joyless. It’s a plod watching from scene to scene as Michael Keaton desperately tries to inject even a little emotion into a generally flat script, and that makes White Noise a bit of a slog. There’s simply nothing to feel invested in: its characters all seem entirely hopeless from the get-go, and none of them are layered or interesting enough to really elicit any genuine emotion from the audience.
There are a handful of unintentionally funny moments that only further hurt White Noise. There’s the “scary” reveal of the evil spirits stalking John, who look like they were rejected by a budget ghost train. There are a number of jumpscares so obvious and poorly executed that they wouldn’t even frighten a kitten with a heart condition. The icing on the cake is perhaps the bizarre inclusion of John’s son, Mike – the child plays no part in the plot, but he does spend much of the film wearing the same set of clothes. This is even funnier when you consider that White Noise‘s story takes place over several months and that it includes multiple funerals, in which young Mike wears the exact same casual outfit. It’s one of those nagging immersion-breaking details that derails the film because it highlights just how little thought went into aspects of the production.
White Noise is not a good film. It’s just about coherent, but its story is so ill-defined and poorly written that it simply doesn’t matter. It’s almost impossible to care about what’s going on in the film itself, and that’s an issue that the passage of time has only compounded. Despite the fact that it’s got a reasonably impressive cast, White Noise is the sort of ’00s horror movie that thoroughly deserves to be forgotten.
Summary: White Noise hits the bad horror movie trifecta: it has aged terribly, it barely makes sense, and it simply isn’t scary. Everything it tries to achieve feels half-cocked, and the result is thoroughly underwhelming.
Highlights: White Noise features a number of scenes that hint at multiple subplots, and its final twist is subversive enough not to pay any of them off. (If that sounds backhanded, then good – there is no genuine highlight.)