White Noise


Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Written by:Niall Johnson
Starring: Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West, Ian McNeice
Released: April 21, 2005
Grade: B+

There’s been a noticeable resurgence in the supernatural horror genre over the past six months.  We’ve seen The Ring 2, The Amityville Horror, Exorcist: The Beginning, The Grudge and The Forgotten.  The filmmakers understand what they need to do and that is to scare the audience.  The problem is that they are all using the same techniques.  How many times have you seen someone open a glass cabinet and then when they close it, there’s something in the background?  Other similarities include the use of rain/lightening, false alarms (particularly early in the film) and sharp, abrupt noises.

When you break it down, the premise of White Noise is pretty flimsy.  Architect Jonathan Rivers (Keaton) has just lost his wife Anna (West).  After being missing for five weeks, her body washed up on a river bank.  Not long after, a stranger (McNeice) visits Jonathan and says that his wife has been communicating him from “the other side”.  He identifies himself as Raymond Price and leaves a business card in case Jonathan should ever change his mind.

Six months later, Jonathan is knocking on Raymond’s door and is introduced to the world of electronic voice phenomena or EVP for short.  When you’re trying to tune your TV or radio station, you often get a crackly noise.  Well, if you pick up on just the right frequency and happen to be looking at just the right time, you can pick something up.  There are stories of tape recorders left in empty rooms only to be played back and have voices revealed.

Raymond has both heard and seen Anna on his television screen and Jonathan soon realises this is no hoax.  The question then becomes one of why Anna is doing this and what is it she has to say?

You’d be easily forgiven if you confused this film with an advertisement for EVP.  It’s got to be a big boost for those people who believe in it.  I haven’t done any research but I’ll admit to being a huge sceptic.  Despite my negativity, the narrative of this film makes me interested and wanting to believe it.  By the end, I was dying with curiosity to see how it would end.

To get back to my opening argument, it’s this different subject material which gives White Noise an edge over other recent supernatural flicks.  There’s a lingering doubt as to how the film will end.  After a nice opening box-office in the United States, this may not be the last time we see the world of EVP on the big screen.