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White Noise

A movie directed by Geoffrey Sax

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White Noise: An Appropriate Title For This Film

  • Sep 2, 2005
  • by
Pros: good idea for the story, Chandre West

Cons: lousy script, horrid direction, terrible special effects

The Bottom Line: I expected this film to be a lot more than it was.

I recently won a month subscription to NetFlix. My husband and I decided to go through their titles and choose some movies to watch over the weekend. The first we chose was White Noise, a thriller released in January of 2005. I wanted to catch this in the theater, but Craig just didn't have any interest. So, when I saw White Noise on NetFlix, I insisted that we rent it. After all, we would be renting it for free. Craig, of course, agreed... as long as he could rent Death Wish. (Review coming soon, believe me!)

I must say, I was VERY disappointed with White Noise. I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the jumbled mess that I sat through. thank goodness I traded off with Craig, or I never would have been able to live it down. The movie was as bad as he thought it would be.

Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) has a perfect life: a great job, a wonderful wife, a beautiful home, a terrific son, and another baby on the way. When his wife Anna (Chandre West) disappears, Jonathan becomes desperate to find her. Several months later, her body is finally found. Immediately after that, he is approached by Raymond Price (Ian McNeice), a man who is able to communicate with the dead through all sorts of electronic equipment. It sounds just like static to us, but if you listen carefully, you'll be able to hear the dead speaking to you.

Soon, something happens to Raymond. Jonathan decides to try to contact Anna himself, and sets up the whole electronic system in his house. He begins to neglect his son and his job, just so that he can listen to the dead communicate. He is a man obsessed, and it isn't pretty.

When Jonathan went to his sessions with Raymond, he met a woman named Sarah Tate (Deborah Kara Unger). He and Sarah start getting messages that foretell the future, and Jonathan is convinced that it is Anna trying to get him to help people. Another woman disappears, much like the way Anna disappeared, and Jonathan is determined to find her.

Unfortunately, good spirits aren't the only kind that come through. There are three dark spirits that appear throughout the film. When you see them, you know that something bad is bound to happen. However, it seems that the audience are the only people who can see these dark spirits.

I've written enough spoliers in this plot. Let me round it out by saying that Jonathan accomplishes his goal, but not before hurting many of those around him by accident, bot physically and emotionally.

I've always been a fan of Michael Keaton. He does a decent job in this film as the heartbroken, desperate, obsessed widower. However, he could have been a lot better. I don't think that writer Niall Johnson, who only has 2 other feature film writing credits, gave him too much to work with. The character is pretty flat and stereotypical for a man who lost his wife.

Unger does an okay job of Sarah Tate, who is also heartbroken over losing her fiance, but swept up by Jonathan's obsession. After a while, you begin to question why she is there in the first place. When she gets injured, there really is no feeling from the audience because everything is so darned unbelievable.

Chandre West gives the best performance in the whole film as Anna Rivers, Jonathan's wife. Unfortunately, she is in the film for maybe 20 minutes. I question the casting, though, as she looks more like Keaton's daughter than wife. After she dies, everything goes downhill from there.

Ian McNeice as the creepy Raymond Price is also sorely miscast. I don't know what director Geoffrey Sax, who has a lot of TV credits but no film credits under his belt, was thinking. McNeice is the most seasoned actor in the film (next to Keaton), yet does the worst job. Maybe it's because a fat, British guy just didn't fit the role of Raymond Price. You'd look for someone creepy, like Christopher Walken or Ray Liotta, not a jolly Brit. However, I think McNeice did the best he could with what he was given.

There are two places where some sort of special effects, besides all of the static on the radio and television, come in. When Jonathan is running towards the car accident, the three dark spirits pass him. The second time is when Jonathan is washing his face in Sarah's apartment, and the spirits pass him. I just don't get it. First of all, they were just globs of black. Secondly, did Jonathan see them, or just the audience? It would have been better if some sort of radio or other electronic device malfunctioned. There was no need for these, and they detracted even more from an already bad movie.

I suppose you can call all of the noises and such with the electronic devices "special effects," but they are just easy parlor tricks. I can do the same effects on my computer with some basic software. I'm just not impressed.

I hated the ending of this film. Everyone around Jonathan knew that he needed mental help, yet no one offered any. His ex-wife Jane (Sarah Strange) was present quite a bit, yet didn't display any concern for his well-being or the way that he treated their son Mikey (Nicholas Elia). I didn't expect a happy ending, but what they did was such garbage. And there was no emotions on the faces of anyone in the final scene, either. That is poor directing, in my humble opinion. The director should have noticed that and given some acting direction to the actors.

As I mentioned before, I was sorely disappointed by this film. I was looking for a psychological thriller, and found a low-scale horror flick. I can make a movie scarier than this. Truly. Maybe I oughta try.


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More White Noise reviews
review by . February 04, 2007
This is one of those annoying films that is just interesting enough to keep you watching to find out what happens without every actually being engaging. Michael Keaton spends a lot of time watching static on a TV set and listening to static on a tape recorder. Occasionally the static tells him something and he gets all excited and runs out and does something. then he comes back and watches the static again. If you want to watch a good horror movie, then look at The Others or What Lies Beneath. If …
review by . April 07, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
When I was in the theatre to see some movie that I can't remember White Noise was one of the previews shown and man was I scared of the mere thought of it. Everyone I know wanted to see it knowing that with a concept that is actually fact it couldn't fail. I also thought this until I saw it and wow do I regret that. The previews with the old woman saying "Get out of my house" with her name and the date it was recorded which I think was only a few years ago and then the words after telling you that …
review by . September 02, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: good idea for the story, Chandre West     Cons: lousy script, horrid direction, terrible special effects     The Bottom Line: I expected this film to be a lot more than it was.      I recently won a month subscription to NetFlix. My husband and I decided to go through their titles and choose some movies to watch over the weekend. The first we chose was White Noise, a thriller released in January of 2005. I wanted to catch this in …
review by . August 20, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
"White Noise" uses EVP(electronic voice phenomena) in an attempt to creep out the crowd. Actual EVP occurs when someone records voices of supposed dead people who are speaking from beyond. This film tries to bank on that by combining the recordings with a murderous group of nasty spirits who use TVs, video, tapedecks, etc. to crossover and do some evil deeds.     In the beginning of the film, Michael Keaton loses a loved one in an accident. She in turn calls him the next night …
review by . May 18, 2005
Now and then along comes a film that deals with subject matter that is not well known and when that subject matter involves paranormal information, it seems to throw up a wall that is threatening to many viewers. "Walls" like that are usually the first response to encountering new ideas and if viewers can simply watch this well made film without prejudices, then perhaps the study of after death experiences will gain attention that in turn will encourage further investigation.     WHITE …
About the reviewer
Candice Cain ()
Ranked #406
I own the Candy Cain Travel Co. in Brookhaven, NY. I am a certified Professional Bridal Consultant with the Association of Bridal Consultants and my agency is certified by IATA and CLIA. I specialize … more
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About this movie


In the 1920s, Thomas Edison speculated that a device would be created which would allow humans to conduct conversations with the dead. In the 1970s, Sarah Estep picked up some mysterious voices on her husband's reel-to-reel tape recorder, and set up the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) to help track the phenomenon. In 2005, following a welter of evidence gathered by Estep and others, EVP forms the backbone for director Geoffrey Sax's shocking feature film WHITE NOISE. <br> <br> Architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) has little time to mourn the passing of his wife Anna (Chandra West) when he starts receiving signals from her. A faint sound of her voice is caught by Rivers in radio static on the night of her death, followed by incessant cell phone calls coming from Anna's old number. Rivers is convinced he can hear Anna's voice saying "go, Jon" to him in the resulting calls. With a little help from expert EVP practitioner Raymond Price (Ian McNeice), Rivers contacts Anna and b...
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Director: Geoffrey Sax
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Universal Studios Home Video (August 16, 2009)
Runtime: 1hr 38min
Studio: Universal Studios
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