White Noise

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Rating: PG-13

Micheal Keaton as Jonathan Rivers
Chandra West as Anna Rivers
Deborah Kara Unger as Sarah Tate
Ian McNeice as Raymond Price
Sarah Strange as Jane
Nicholas Elia as Mike Rivers
Mike Dopud as Detective Smits
Marsha Regis as Police Woman
Brad Sihvon as Minister
Mitchell Kosterman as Work Man
L Harvey Gold as Business Man
Amber Rothwell as Susie Tomlinson
Suzanne Ristic as Mary Freeman
Keegan Connor Tracy as Mirabelle Keegan
Miranda Frigon as Carol Black

Special Features:
Making Contact: E.V.P. Experts

Recording the Afterlife at Home

Hearing is Believing: Actual E.V.P. Sessions

Feature Commentary with Director Geoffrey Sax and Michael Keaton

Deleted Scenes

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

The following is from the DVD cover:

“The year’s most disturbing thriller explores the unsettling possibility that the dead can contact us’all we have to do is listen.

When architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) loses his wife in a tragic accident, he turns to the shadowy, unnerving world of Electronic Voice Phenomenon – communication from beyond the grave. But as he begins to penetrate the mysteries of EVP, Jonathan makes a shocking discovery: once a portal to the other world is opened, there’s no telling what will come through it.”

White Noise is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language.

The Movie:
What worked in White Noise? Keaton. Plain and simple. What little he has to work with here – in the form of the flimsy story line – he carries. It was really good to see him back on the screen and in solid form. You genuinely feel for him in his grief over the death of his wife and you want him to stop obsessing over EVP before he gets hurt. He has a good supporting cast as well. Unger is intriguing as the EVP friend Sarah and McNeice is convincing in a limited role as the EVP buff Price.

What true scares there are in the film come as a result of the EVP messages. Not since Poltergeist or Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness did I feel so uneasy about static-filled televisions and taped messages from the future.

There was too much that didn’t work to get into without spoiling the film. However, I will touch on a few points. The story – ack! It seems the writer Niall Johnson started armed with an attractive idea and good back-story, but had no earthly idea how to bring it all together in the end. The ‘villains’ of the film are a trio of shadow spirits – three figures that apparently have a grudge against those who dabble in EVP. However, there is NO explanation as to who/what these figures are or what their particular beef is with EVPers. Apparently, Price has had run-ins with the ‘men in the room’ before according to his account diaries, but why – after his 22 years as an EVP hobbyist – do they decide to turn violent on him now?

Then there is the twist that some of the messages Keaton’s Rivers intercepts are from people who are not dead yet, but will die soon! Huh? Is this EVP or ESP? Keaton believes it is his dead wife trying to get him to go into hero mode and save these people before they meet their maker, but that is never really verified.

While the shadow men are the bad guys, they do need a corporeal intermediary with a nasty disposition to assist with their hazy agenda, and that revelation falls painfully flat.

There also is the clichéd sap and sequel suggestion at the end. Yawn.

In the end, there are just too many unanswered questions regarding the players and motives in White Noise.

The Extras:
Oddly enough, none of the bonus features on this DVD discuss the actual making of the movie. Everything is pretty heavily geared towards real life EVP. Here is what you will find on the DVD:

Making Contact: E.V.P. Experts – This featurette shows real life EVP “experts”. They seem to be otherwise normal people who can’t get over the death of loved ones. (If I was a ghost I don’t think I’d spend my time hanging around talking to people waving tape recorders around asking questions.) They record noise with regular tape recorders and digital recorders, then play them back looking for noises that sound like voices. Some voices are easy to hear while others seem to be liberal interpretations of static. Whether you believe them or not, it’s interesting to hear about what the film was based on.

Recording the Afterlife at Home – A couple of EVP experts give you tips on how to record the voices of the dead from the comfort of your own home. Oddly enough heavy doses of alcohol aren’t part of the plan.

Hearing is Believing: Actual E.V.P. Sessions – If you like Unsolved Mysteries then you’ll probably enjoy this featurette. They follow a couple of EVP buffs around a haunted castle in Los Angeles and an old nightclub in Chicago. It’s a little silly but oddly fascinating at the same time.

Feature Commentary with Director Geoffrey Sax and Michael Keaton – The review copy of the film that I was sent didn’t have the commentary, so I can’t comment on it.

Deleted Scenes – There are just a few deleted scenes and none of them are that significant. One of them reveals that Anna Rivers was kidnapped, but you could piece that together from watching the film. Another scene shows Jonathan waking up in the morning and finally calling the police to report a missing person.

The Bottom Line:
While White Noise is full of plot holes and has a questionable script, it does what it sets out to do. It creeps you out. The movie could make for a decent impulse rental on a dark and stormy night.