White Noise’: sounds like tedium

"White Noise" is much like watching a marathon of Full House. In almost every episode of the 1980s’ most odious television show, The Deej or Stephanie would realize that they could have avoided all of the day’s zany problems, if only they’d been honest with Dad and Uncle Joey. Similarly, if any character in "White Noise" had used an ounce of common sense everything would have been fine and there would have been no movie at all.

I wanted so badly for "White Noise" to be decent. The previews, which featured "real" recordings of dead people talking, were creepy as hell. But even for a "psychological thriller" – the dub for a dull horror movie – "White Noise" is very, very bad. It’s scary only long enough to give the audience hope that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be a complete waste of time. But it is.

Back-story tells us that Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) traded in his old wife for a newer, younger, and blonder Anna (Chandra West), apparently because she makes more money than he does as the bestselling author of – what else – books about death. The couple lives in a lovely house on the bay, and Anna gets along famously with both Jonathan’s son and ex-wife. As soon as Jonathan and Anna’s love for one another is inadequately demonstrated, Anna falls into a river and is declared missing.

An endearingly obese man waddles after Jonathan and insists, much to Jonathan’s dismay, that his wife is dead and has tried to make contact through Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP.

Being a grieving husband, Jonathan accepts the message blindly and spends a montage’s worth of time growling and waving his fists at VCRs and computer monitors, waiting for his wife to speak again.

Well, she does. She says, "Jon my love… Go! Go now," a message tailored for Jonathan to misinterpret in every ridiculous way possible, short of dropping his pants and pissing on the screen. He realizes that some of the folks appearing in the television static aren’t dead yet and thus begins his quest to save them.

The plot from here on is driven by the infuriatingly simple idea that some ghosts who utilize EVP are threatening, violent and murderous. That’s all. Three evil ghosts like to kill people, and they, unlike Anna, can form full sentences.

In just one of the dozens of useless scenes with useless characters, Jonathan visits a blind psychic, who warns him to stop meddling in the supernatural. Meanwhile, Anna continues to dumbly repeat the same six words, attempting to warn Jonathan the danger she led him to in the first place. It never occurs to her that by keeping her mouth shut, she could prevent her husband from coming into contact with the dark trio, as well as avoid the string of deaths that follow.

Why these three ghosts are so angry, why they kill, where they come from, who they are, what they want, are among scads of questions the movie is content to leave unanswered.

For instance, is the loose, wrinkled flesh behind Keaton’s sideburns due to slackening facelift scars? And how does Deborah Kara Unger look younger than she did 10 years ago?