White Noise

UK release date: Mar 26 2008

cast list

Michael Keaton
Deborah Kara Unger
Chandra West
Ian McNeice

directed by
Geoffrey Sax
Architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) and successful writer Anna Rivers (Chandra West) are an affluent couple with a son, Mike (Nicholas Elia) from Jonathan’s first marriage. When Anna goes to work one day she leaves a message for Jonathan saying that she is meeting with a friend. When it goes past midnight and Anna fails to return home, Jonathan is left worrying for her well-being.

It is announced on the TV news that Anna was involved in a serious car accident and her body is undiscovered. Months go by, as Jonathan and Mike are left worried and anxious, wondering whether she is dead or has been abducted. Jonathan is followed to his workplace by the eccentric Raymond Price, who professes an interest in the scientific phenomenon known as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenonomen). Price tells him that he has been receiving messages from Anna from beyond the grave, and sure enough, her body is soon discovered three miles from the scene of her accident.

Six months later, Jonathan and Mike move to a luxurious apartment where he starts to receive calls from his dead wife’s mobile phone and hears distorted cries from her in the night. Jonathan seeks the aforementioned Raymond for advice about these bizarre experiences, descending into a state of paranoia and obsession as he tries to communicate with his deceased wife.

At a time when American remakes of East-Asian Horror films such as The Ring and The Grudge prove highly profitable and when the supernatural cinematic endeavours of films by M. Night Shyamalan gain considerable critical and commercial recognition, White Noise has an advantage as it joins the current trend for the financially beneficial supernatural horror market. But is White Noise any good? In a single word – Nope!

Michael Keaton practically flies solo with little help from his co-actors – he is actually the film’s only saving grace as he is rather engaging when he conveys varying emotions such as despair, frustration and obsession. It’s fair to say that if it wasn’t for Keaton’s thespian talent the wafer-thin plot would collapse and disperse down the proverbial drain.

His fellow actors are given little screen time, especially the underused manic Raymond played by the eerie yet likable Ian McNeice. He is simply not granted enough time and space to exploit his idiosyncratic, obsessive interests in EVP, which is a shame.

Deborah Kara Unger has a similar problem – as Sarah, a character who meets Jonathan at Raymond’s house during one of his EVP sessions, she is simply not given enough space to develop. Instead, she is merely a sounding board for Jonathan’s far-fetched musing and experiments when he becomes too deeply embroiled in EVP.

As well as the underused actors, the film manages to lose the slight psychological grip that it has the moment that Jonathan begins to see the cheap Scooby Doo-style ghosts, leading to a truly appalling climax. At times, White Noise is slow moving and most of the time it is deeply implausible. All of the time however, this is uncomplicated, clichd and flawed, silly nonsense.

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