Architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) is devastated by the mysterious death of his wife Anna (Chandra West) just after she falls pregnant. When he's contacted by Raymond Price (Ian McNeice), a man who claims to be receiving messages from the other side via the white noise - EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) - that you can hear on the radio between stations or on television, Jonathan is reluctantly drawn into a search for Anna. But there are dark and destructive forces who interfere with the signals, and Jonathan finds himself a player in a deadly new world which involves Anna sending him warning messages to try and prevent the death of others in the area.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
What could have been an endearing and moving Ghost-like exploration of love across the natural divide of life and death turns into a messy cheesecake of supernatural horror without scaring the pants off its audience, nor making any real sense.
Despite the credible work of Micheal Keaton as the frantic husband who loses a wife and Ian McNeice as the obsessive Price making contact with the dead via the white noise we usually tune out, the film fails to deliver on any of its promises, all because of a confused screenplay. It's as if the filmmakers tried so hard to prove that white noise is a real phenomenon that they loaded it up with extras it doesn't need and can't carry.
The spooky stuff is bloated with every paranormal device at hand, so that white noise becomes one of several vehicles driving the mystery aspects. The lights go out, lifts stop, mobile phones ring without being dialled, and ominous shapes of dark figures appear at random. All this strains the basic concept beyond endurance.
The script also fails to answer simple questions like why it is that when we first see Price he seems to be stalking or watching Jonathan - first across from his house, then across from his office. When Jonathan confronts him, he offers no explanation as to why he didn't just walk up and introduce himself as someone who could help Jonathan in his time of mourning.
Nor does the script address Jonathan's remarkably friendly relationship with his ex, nor how come he has custody of their son, nor why he ignores said son for most of the film.
Such a sloppy script can't possibly keep us engrossed and engaged, and certainly not spooked out. Even fate is against it; The Amityville Horror opens in Australian cinemas a week before White Noise, and contains a significant plot element tied to the time on the various clocks showing 3:15 am. In White Noise, the equivalent is 2:30 am, and it looks stale and boring.
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WHITE NOISE (M)
CAST: Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Ian McNeice, Sarah Strange, Chandra West
PRODUCER: Paul Brooks, Shawn Williamson
DIRECTOR: Geoffrey Sax
SCRIPT: Niall Johnson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Chris Seager
EDITOR: Nick Arthurs
MUSIC: Claude Foisy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael S. Bolton
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 21, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
VIDEO RELEASE: September 21, 2005
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.