November 13, 2013

Noise (2004)

Directed by Tony Spiridakis. Starring Trish Goff ("Joyce Chandler"), Ally Sheedy ("Charlotte Bancroft"), Giancarlo Esposito ("Hank"), and Nicole Hansen ("Sheila"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Velocity Home Entertainment)
Running time: 01:25:00
Country: USA

An aloof, single young lady named Joyce moves into a new apartment in what appears to be the Soho area of New York City. Two things are revealed right away in regards to Joyce and her new apartment: 1) she's recently divorced from an older man who she still has feelings for, and 2) she has a neighbor who plays deafeningly loud music at odd hours of the night and at most hours of the day. As she settles into her new place and tries to fit in at her new job, she makes time to attend a support group for women who were cheated on, dumped, etc. She eventually confronts her neighbor Charlotte about the noise, but nothing's resolved; Charlotte is defensive and seems slightly crazy, their landlord lets it slide due to the fact that Charlotte pays her rent on time, and the police have better things to do than respond to noise complaints.

Joyce's mischievous side comes out as she eventually tries to take matters into her own hands and get revenge on Charlotte in a seemingly playful way, but it totally backfires on her. What ensues is essentially the psychological breakdown of Joyce. The film's tagline ("What would you do for a good nights sleep?") and the manner in which its advertised would suggest that this is a small-scale Hitchcockean thriller, in which the lead character is driven to do things outside of her character because of a noisy neighbor, but that's not exactly the case. Hitchcock is obviously one of the names that came to mind when watching this, and it's he's ultimately the person who intended on referencing in this review, but listening to the DVD commentary track opened my eyes to a more accurate (and admittedly obvious) source of influence for the filmmakers involved with NOISE.

NOISE was made, partly, as an homage to Roman Polanski - specifically his films REPULSION and ROSEMARY'S BABY. Some of the nods to Polanski (and those films) in NOISE are obvious in hindsight, and some are so subtle that only hardcore fans of either of the aforementioned films would pick them up. Not that I expect anyone reading this to go out and watch this movie, but I still feel the need to warn people that  NOISE is no REPULSION or ROSEMARY'S BABY, and director Tony Spiridakis is certainly no Hitchcock or Polanski. This is a low-budget and fairly mediocre attempt at a psychological thriller, and I use the word "thriller" as loosely as possible; this was evident very early in the film during the oddly cartoonish opening credits that would be more fitting for an indie comedy.

As far as the cast, Ally Sheedy is sparingly used. While listening to the commentary track, the filmmakers revealed that they had to use clips of Sheedy's outtakes in the final cut of the film just to give her character more screentime. Trish Goff, who plays Joyce, is pretty good in this when you consider the fact that she's a fashion model who never really pursued acting.

I found this movie in the Horror section at the local video store, so that probably added to the overall disappointment on my end. Judging it on its own merits, though, I'm confident in saying that NOISE isn't effective as a thriller. At all. As a Polanski-esque descent into madness that revolves around a vulnerable woman? Slightly. But for the most part it's just boring. At the very least, the characters are somewhat interesting despite being unlikable, and the whole New York, coffee shop, "hipster" vibe is something that separates this from most films of its ilk. And it should be said that there's more to Joyce's breakdown than just a noisy neighbor; it's a combination of many things (including her own personal issues), but the noise plays a big part in it and is certainly the main catalyst for her breakdown.

Score: 5.5

1 comment:

  1. I reviewed this one a few years ago, and although I haven't seen it since, I feel like I should give it a rewatch now. I enjoyed it back then, but that may have changed. At the time, I had recently escaped from the basement apartment where I was living, and the people who had lived above me were an obnoxious group of punk rockers who blasted music all hours of the night, stomped around like elephants, and taunted me through the air vents. It was a very unsettling experience, and neither the landlord or the police would do anything about it. Confrontation with them only made it worse, and my nerves were frayed to the point of breakdown. So I suppose it's possible that I enjoyed the movie more through identifying with the situation than because of its actual merits.

    My review (if you're interested)