Film review: White Noise (2005), directed by Geoffrey Sax
This is a film I’ve wanted to see pretty much since it came out, on the basis that it’s about EVP, Electronic Voice Phenomenon, which is what the movie centres around. I managed to see the sequel White Noise 2: The Light earlier in the year, with the great Nathan Fillion, which was an okay film, if not perhaps what I expected. Or maybe I did just expect it to be a bog-standard horror idea with cheap thrills. Either way, I think I prefer this one.
In this film, we have the architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton), who is married to a successful author called Anna (Chandra West). One night, when she’s out to see a friend, she disappears. Her car is found by a river, but as there is no body she is presumed missing. During this time, a man called Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) appears to be following Jonathan around. He turns out to be EVP enthusiast and says that Anna is dead and he has a message from her.
Some time passes and Anna’s body is indeed found. Her death is presumed accidental due to the nature of her injuries and where she was found. Weird things start to happen around Jonathan: he gets a call from Anna’s mobile, even though he’s holding it in his hand and it’s switched off (voice of reason says “someone could’ve cloned her SIM, duhh”, but okay, we’ll go along with it). He decides to meet up with Price, who tells him all about how EVP can be used to record messages from the dead.
Jonathan gets sucked into all of this, and when Price eventually turns up dead, he takes over the video and recording equipment and continues the work, along with Price’s friend/client/helper Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger). He gets more and more involved … and then gets a warning from a medium to back off, that he doesn’t know what he’s meddling with, and that it’s dangerous. Does he? Take a wild stab at a guess.
Funny how both movies ended in the same sort of way, and that they were really about two very different things. There were some jumpy moments and some nice chills, but all in all, it was a harmless movie. Although, as it points out, EVP is real (as in it’s an existing phenomena) … maybe it does have a point in that we shouldn’t meddle with things we don’t know. It says one in twelve EVP messages are of a threatening nature, and it doesn’t surprise me. After all, there have been some weird ouija messages over the years, and low-level spirits find that sort of medium (pun intended) accessible.
… Erm, yeah, I’m not just into “ordinary” psychology, I’m also seriously into parapsychology. 😉 Hence why I tend to scrutinise movies about paranormal phenomena into a “yeah, that’s plausible” and a “heck no” category. Most films are firmly in the latter category. This is actually quite a plausible one, which is nice for a change. Not everything, of course – as far as I know, there aren’t that sort of clear pictures in real-life EVP (are there pictures at all?), or easy to hear what’s being said. People are also supposed to definitely be dead. It’s close, but no cigar.
There were a few things that bugged me. First, when Anna drove off with the child, neither of them had seatbelts. My thought was “if you both die in a car crash, it’s your own fault!” The second being the thing about the SIM card. Third, how Jonathan just happens to be involved with people dying. Aren’t the police going to get suspicious and think he did it? First, his wife. Then, Price. (Did they name him Price as a tribute to Harry Price, the psychic researcher?) He was acting weird, after all, and then there’s a dead body. But no.
The lady in the car crash, in the middle of the night, and he just happens to be there? Sarah’s sudden desire to skydive? Well, they did seem a bit curious, but not to the point of arresting him on suspicion of murder, which one would’ve thought they would. So the suspension of disbelief was stretched pretty thinly, and that’s not even counting the things that doesn’t make much sense to a parapsychology nerd.
All in all, it was an okay movie. Not brilliant, but I definitely rate it higher than one of the ridiculous Poltergeist sequels. Michael Keaton is always an enjoyable actor to watch, although I prefer him in more quirky, comedic roles, such as Multiplicity (1996) and Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Still, he’s good as a neurotic widower. Even though he doesn’t seem to be much of a father to his son, it has to be said. No wonder the kid seems to feel a little neglected, with daddy just watching static all day and night …
3 out of 5 TV screens.