Saturday, April 24, 2010

The White Noise Retrospective

 

If ghosts are transparent, then movies about them should reach beyond that and create something with depth and feeling, to display the emotional connection we have with the dead, and the interesting moral dilemmas that come up when we...yeah, okay, none of that really is explored in the White Noise movies.

I mean I don't think I've ever met someone who likes either of these movies. How did they even get the budget to keep making them? These movies have got to be just about the most throwaway examples of modern American horror ever made; the junk food of the genre. It's just about as disposable, and not even as tasty, either. How bad can these movies get? Well, how far does the Grand Canyon reach down?

Director: Geoffrey Sax
Starring: Michael Keaton, Ian McNeice

So, let's start off with the first one. This watered down, stumbling mess of a movie is one that I don't think I've ever seen get a positive review. And why the hell should it? Starring a very dull Michael Keaton, White Noise explores nothing except the disturbing, wrongheaded possibility that apparently we can talk to people after they die - not a bad premise for a film on its own, but the execution just feels hammy. It's cheapened and trivialized to the point where it just can't be taken seriously even for a second. The characters are cardboard cutouts who I don't care about, the shift into an almost superhero-type direction in the film's last quarter is abrupt and not really done in an exciting way, and the climax is just fucking silly. But it wasn't that offensive overall. It's bad, but not quite as bad as the sequel...

Director: Patrick Lussier
Starring: Nathan Fillion, Katee Sackhoff

I think the worst thing about this movie, innocuously titled "The Light," is that it ALMOST had some good things going. I actually kind of liked the main character played by the great Nathan Fillion of Firefly - although what the FUCK he was doing in this movie continues to baffle me - and the really hot Katee Sackhoff added a lot of visual candy to the movie, as well as being a genuinely likable character. The movie almost seemed interesting for a while, which is why it is so goddamned painful when it finally dawns on you, as Fillion spends a painstaking five whole minutes figuring out that there's a satanic conspiracy at work that would make the Omen blush, that the movie does not know what it's doing at all.

I mean...this is stupid. Really, really stupid, you guys. It's one thing to have this kind of religious nonsense in your movie to begin with, it's another to have it so stupidly written and sloppy - it seriously just boils down to "We couldn't think of a good enough plot in time because we spent all our time staring at Katee Sackhoff's rack, so...HERE'S SOME STUFF ABOUT THE DEVIL AND LUCIFER AND 666!"

...But it is another thing entirely to examine this plot more thoroughly.

This plot is so contrived and so needlessly complex that it completely unravels and turns the movie into a total mess. Apparently, Fillion's character can see auras that tell him when people are going to die. He tries to save them until he figures out - through the incredibly long-winded and needless satanic conspiracy I mentioned above - that after three days...yes, three days; I suppose convenience is a top priority on the devil's list of things to care about...of being saved when they were supposed to die, they...start killing people and go crazy? What's the story behind this? The movie sure knows how to throw inexplicable plot devices and pictures from Dante's Inferno at us, but it does not make me believe even for one second any of this. It would be one thing if it was a simple concept like the first one; that would be easy to discard and forget about...but this is just so ridiculously specific, so niche and so intricate in its trappings, at the same time without actually explaining anything, that it makes the movie completely worthless. The hammy, grueling mess of a climax doesn't help matters, either.

What a stupid pair of movies. How bad do you have to be to make movies that NOBODY likes? Neither of these movies contain anything resembling good filmmaking. Sure, the first one has some nice colors and settings here and there, and sure, the second one has some okay characters, but if you can't write a good story, don't make a fucking movie. Pfft. I don't think I have to tell anyone to avoid this pair of aching yak testicles.