"White Noise" is more like "Trite Noise"

Jan. 11, 2005, midnight | By Christopher Consolino | 17 years ago

When ghosts go high-tech

The dead have gone high-tech, and now anybody can turn his or her TV and radio into a means of contacting them. Just record the sound of an empty room and play it back to hear or even see the deceased on any radio or TV. In "White Noise," the masses are given a glimpse as to how this revolutionary, if not ridiculous, form of contacting the other side really works.

Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) starts out like any other unsuspecting, happy, middle-aged man. Though divorced, he has a good kid (Nicholas Elia), is happily re-married and has a great job as an architect. But when his wife, Anna Rivers (Chandra West), disappears and is found dead eight months later, Jonathan's life takes a sudden turn. He is soon contacted by a stranger named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice), who claims that Anna has contacted him through the use of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP).

After seeing and listening to Anna, Jonathan finds Price dead. He then consults a medium who warns him to stop using EVP immediately. Disregarding the advice, Jonathan continues to use EVP and discovers, through the static radio waves, that Anna is really showing him various people who are in grave danger in the hopes that he can save them. Unfortunately, Jonathan also hears angry voices from those of a more sinister nature.Director Geoffrey Sax gave the clichéd plot, courtesy of Niall Johnson, some suspense, but when Jonathan is not using his EVP setup or being confronted by the haunting images of the dead, it becomes a little too obvious that most of the budget went to special effects.

Even so, the dark and gloomy sets are mundane and cheesy. The pier where Anna dies is a perfect example of an archetypal horror set. Isolated lights and "Keep Out" signs sprinkled over the set lend themselves more to "Scary Movie" than an actual horror film. The central building shows that the director obviously enjoyed dark blue lighting with a single introverted light coming from atop the almost endless catacomb of cement beams. Otherwise, the set of "White Noise" is predominantly bland.

To validate claims about the ability of the dead to contact the living, "White Noise" starts with a quote from Thomas Jefferson about how valuable EVP (or some machine capable of contacting the dead) would be. The flick hints at the complexity of uncovering these "messages from beyond" as Jonathan spends hours reviewing tapes and adjusting volume levels of the voice tracks on his computer, but there are no other explanations of how EVP works.

The scariest part is that there are, in fact, real people who use EVP to contact the other side. Even more frightening is that, according to the film, one in 12 of the messages received by those who use EVP in the real world are of a threatening nature.

These angry voices, images and sounds are only as suspenseful as, you guessed it, the average horror movie soundtrack, provided here by Claude Foisy. The soundtrack relies heavily on violins, giving the flick some much-needed suspense at the cost of originality. For the most part, the soundtrack adds to the effectiveness of the film when the graphics fail to scare.

Sadly, "White Noise" is one of the better horror flicks of recent months. Although the film does not have a coherent plot, it does manage to reach its confusing ending without crashing and burning. Although it may not be worth $9, "White Noise" does provide some short-lived jolts and scares.

"White Noise" (101 minutes) is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language and is playing at area theaters.

Last updated: May 6, 2021, 11:38 p.m.

Tags: print

Christopher Consolino. Christopher Consolino is a senior in Communication Arts Program. If Chris had free time, he would spend it practicing piano and taking pictures with his 15 year-old Minolta. He would also like to stress how much better wet process photography is than digital. Most of … More »

Show comments


No comments.

Please ensure that all comments are mature and responsible; they will go through moderation.