Written By: Niall Johnson / Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
“There are nearly 7 billion audio and video recording devices in homes around the world. Every one of them is a portal.”
When the unexpected happens, architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) has become a grieving widower, wallowing in deep confusion over the death of his wife. But a paranormal expert approaches Jonathan with the unlikely: the ability to hear his wife from beyond the grave. Through a form of unusual communication known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), Jonathan will finally be able to see his wife. But in doing so, Jonathan has drawn himself into a much more complex situation when his curiosity becomes an obsession. Only that obsession will have him confront those not of this world, and some of them don’t approve of Jonathan’s interference with their destructive nature.
This film is a nice break from the bloody and disgusting movies I’ve seen lately. Seriously, this movie is definitely scary, but it’s located far on the other end of the horror spectrum from say… the torturous Midnight Meat Train or the brutal, Wolf Creek. If the movies Poltergeist and The Ring had a horror baby, White Noise would be it. This is a supernatural thriller that uses the infamous paranormal theory of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) as the basis for the storyline. Many “ghost hunters” theorize that the use of EVP technology allows a spirit to manifest itself through the energy generated from various devices such as a radio frequency or a television, set to a channel that is not currently broadcasting. Although this movie is a very sad one, it completely gives me the willies. Not to mention I am a fan of Michael Keaton. I grew up watching Beetlejuice a countless, sickening amount of times.
Life couldn’t be happier for Jonathan Rivers (Keaton), a successful architect with a beautiful young wife Anna, a loving son and another child on the way. His world falls apart when Anna disappears and is later found murdered. His grasp on reality is shaken when a mysterious man plays him audio recordings that suggest his wife is trying to contact him from beyond the grave. At this point, he is hooked on trying to connect with Anna through any form of white noise; television, radio, or phone. This obsession with finding his wife through “white noise” grows as Jonathon begins setting up his multiple televisions watching hours and hours of scrambled channels in hopes of getting a glimpse of his wife. In the meantime, he begins seeing faces and hearing voices of other deceased people who are trying to reach out. Through it all Keaton scours his brow with impressive intensity. He really does make the greatest facial expressions I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing in this one.
There are some frustrating unanswered questions with this idea of EVP communication that leaves me asking how? Why? And When? I think it’s safe too assume that most people do not have much knowledge of this field of study. They explain why the dead are trying to communicate but they never describe how in detail, which for a ghost enthusiast, would be nice to know their explanation/theory on the matter. What is the scientific explanation behind the EVP? How are they getting these results? Are they tuning the television to just a blank feed or a certain channel each time? Can the dead really use a phone? Do they get a message for every hour of recorded footage? Every ten hours? Every hundred? AHHH! It is a little frustrating just because you want more of an explanation, but maybe that’s the point… there is no explanation. For a film that spends so much time talking about EVP, we come away from the movie knowing very little about it. I’m sold on the movie hook, line, and sinker… however more explanation would have been nice.
There is a very evil undertone to this movie. We are teased with the idea of three demonic spirits appearing occasionally among the “nice” spirits. I guess they can’t all be good, right? These three black figures keep appearing on the screen amongst the scrambled pins and needles of static, which is a very frightening image to flash on your screen. All you know if somewhere in the unknown realm of the afterlife, there is evil waiting. Again, I will stress, I did like this movie, but the ending could have been stronger. An unraveling of clues leads Jonathon to a killer who has setup shop in an abandoned warehouse, were he is being commanded by these three evil figures to abduct, torture, and finally murder women. That’s all I will say as to not spoil it for you, but it’s not the worst ending in the world… just definitely not the best.
Thankfully, the film offers much interest in pondering the afterlife. I’m not sure about the whole EPV theory of communication, but I’m not opposed to the notion that the departed can leave behind some sort of energy that we don’t understand. It’s an interesting premise, one that may be improved on more in future films, which I will wait for patiently. Until then, White Noise is bottom line a creepy film featuring a talented actor. And my friends, next time you’re sitting at home… late at night, and you come across a fuzzy, scrambled channel of a dead TV broadcast, look deep into the screen, get very close, and listen hard. Someone maybe, just maybe, is trying to contact you from beyond the grave through the static of dead air. Mwuaahhahahahaha! Enjoy!