Directed by Geoffrey Sax; Written by Niall Johnson
White Noise is a 2005 supernatural horror film that acts more like propaganda for EVP, rather than a work of cinema. In addition to its identity crisis, the plot is convoluted and fails to answer simple questions regarding its premise.
Jonathon Rivers (Michael Keaton), a successful architect, is met with the mysterious death of his wife Anna. Continually grieving after months have passed, Jonathon is confronted by Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) who tells him that his wife is sending messages from the ‘other side’ through the white noise or static. This is accomplished by recording a cassette on a stereo or a VCR, then playing it back through. After some time, Jonathon realizes that there are sinister forces involved that are interfering with the signals to deliver a message of their own.
While conceptually, this film doesn’t appear as though it would be a complete mess; in execution, it is concerned more with convincing the audience of the existence of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), than having any sort of a cohesive plot. This renders the convincing performances of Michael Keaton and Ian McNeice pointless, because their abilities are not critical to the story; their roles were interchangeable with basically any other actor.
The fallacies and inconsistencies in this film are quite numerous. The motives of the majority of the characters are not understood, in addition to the function and relationship of Jonathon’s son and ex-wife. The film fails to reveal a villain in any detail further than an obscured reverse shot, which doesn’t allow the audience to truly connect to the story.
All these problems aside, the film uses the cheesy plot device of a specific time on a clock as a method for building tension. While this method has been employed with success in the past, it appears to have lost much of its scare factor throughout its repeated use.
Even in its own time, this film seems to not be culturally relevant in so far that the plot revolves around cassettes and VHS tapes. These items stopped being as relevant around the turn of the century which leads one to believe that this script was written in the ‘90s and not updated for modern times.
The unfortunate reality is that the downfall of the film comes from those behind in the scenes in preproduction. While there are a few scares, the broken plot renders the audience without the ability to receive their full effect. The only positive attribute of the film comes from the performances of Keaton and McNeice, which save the film from plummeting to the bottom of the horror genre.