Nicholas Elia and Michael Keaton in "White Noise"
Do unclear radio stations make you tremble in fear? Does bad reception on the TV set send shivers down your spine?
After "The Ring" petrified audiences in 2002, producers from Hollywood to Hong Kong were apparently convinced that electronic devices are downright horrifying. They aren't.
This latest "Ring" wannabe sees the resurrection of Michael Keaton -- no longer the trim scene-stealer who made 1989's "Batman" a box-office smash. He's aged poorly and has developed an unfortunate potbelly. Still, there's an edge about him, a personality that defies physical attributes and is one of the film's only redeemable qualities.
Keaton is architect Jonathan Rivers, a man in mourning since the mysterious death of his young wife, Anna. When Jonathan is approached by an expert in EVP -- Electronic Voice Phenomena -- who claims Anna has been trying to make contact from "the other side," Rivers seizes the opportunity to hear her voice.
Whoops. Turns out that's not such a hot idea. Jonathan's obsession with EVP grows, and soon some not-so-friendly phantoms are riding the radio waves to raise some havoc. Where's Batman when you need him?
For almost the entire first act, Jonathan is spending hours upon hours staring at TV static and studiously listing to radio crackle. The idea alone is comical. Can you imagine staring at that channel on your TV that never comes in clearly, hoping desperately to see the face of your dead dog Ruffles? They've got a word for that kind of behavior: Crazy.
"Noise" is one of those horror films that relies on cheap scare tactics to startle the audience. Creepy faces flash across the screen accompanied by punctuating piano chords.
The good fright flicks get under your skin and stay there -- "Noise" just gets on your nerves.
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language. 1 hour, 41 minutes.
- Tyler Hanley