White Noise Movie Review

White Noise is predicated on an intriguing process called Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) where the dead contact the living through televisions, telephones, and radios. Some may think it's ridiculous, but EVP has long been a fascination for ghost researchers. It's also been the basis for some of the creepiest and most disturbing horror movies ever made, like The Ring and Poltergeist. But with White Noise, we receive mixed signals and a new broadcast that becomes a boring waiting game for the thrills to begin.

Michael Keaton is Jonathan Rivers, a successful architect and loving husband to his pregnant novelist wife Anna (Chandra West) and father to his son Mike (Nicholas Elia), from a previous marriage. After Anna's sudden disappearance and subsequent death, a man named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) contacts Jonathan claiming he's been receiving messages from Anna on the other side. Desperate to be connected once again with his wife, Jonathan begins a dangerous obsession with EVP.

He converts his living room into a studio equipped with numerous television monitors, computers, and high-tech recording devices ready to capture anything he sees or hears. Soon, Jonathan completely distances himself from real life. Important business meetings are cancelled, and weekend visits with his son are woefully dismissed so that he can keep his eyes and ears glued to the televisions. Jonathan believes the messages he hears in the white noise are alerting him to crimes that have not yet been committed. He quickly becomes a superhero for the living -- saving lives and delivering good news from the beyond to his neighbors. Too bad he can't do anything for the comatose audience in the theater.

Even from its opening frames, the predictable White Noise fails miserably to frighten, enlighten, or entertain. The central problem is that too many scenes take place in front of static television monitors with barely audible sounds and images that look horribly reproduced just for effect. What are we supposed to be listening for? What's so important that Jonathan must forgo his son and life in order to listen? If this is truly an accurate depiction of the science behind EVP, then it's a totally boring and mind-numbing experience unworthy of fictional filmmaking.

Television movie director Geoffrey Sax appears completely lost in his first big screen attempt. White Noise is directionless. Because a clear plot is never delineated, it becomes burdensome for us to identify with Jonathan's plight and understand his reactions. The first half of the film that deals with Anna's death is remarkably devoid of any emotion from Jonathan, and the bizarre twists and turns in the second half offer us more questions than answers.

Much better films dealing with similar ideas are out there; focus your gaze in the horror section of your local video store, not a scrambled movie screen.

Deleted scenes and a commentary track aren't the highlight of the White Noise DVD -- it's the series of samples and how-to footage about recording EVPs for yourself. Creepy.

Sometimes they just don't need captions.


White Noise Rating

" Unbearable "

Rating: PG-13, 2005


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