White Noise (2005) Apr 16, 2020 15:17:00 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Apr 16, 2020 15:17:00 GMT -5
White Noise (2005)
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Directed by: Geoffrey Sax
Michael Keaton meets a stranger with a supernatural secret in White Noise.
If you've ever wondered why the first theatrical release of a new year is ordinarily a horror film that comes and goes almost before the mainstream public has a chance to forget about it, you can thank White Noise. What was nothing more than a write-off for Universal back in the drearily cold winter months of 2005 turned out to be a sizable hit for the studio, making roughly nine times its budget. Suddenly, the "dump month" of January — one of a couple periods where studios essentially release known critical and likely commercial atrocities — proved to be an attractive breeding-ground for horror films. Just three years later, in January 2008, Paramount released Cloverfield, a runaway success that revived the found footage genre, defined viral internet marketing in its fertile years, and essentially showed studios how much money they could make at the start of the year if they put effort behind the films they were releasing.
Alas, the latter statement doesn't apply to White Noise, a wholly forgettable, hokey amalgam of horror/mystery that lacks both horror and mystery. It centers around Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), a paranormal pseudoscience that interprets soundwaves that lie in static to be the communication method for spirits. There is a great deal of static in White Noise, most of it exists in the story.
Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) comes to learn about the wonders EVP after his peaceful existence is upended when his wife Anna (Chandra West) disappears after a car accident and is later found dead in an adjacent body of water. He's convinced by two strangers (Ian McNeice and Deborah Kara Unger) that he can indeed communicate with his wife from beyond the grave by using EVP. He's understandably skeptical at first, but begins to see her face in the static of his television and hear foreign sounds on his kitchen boombox. He sifts through the "snow" of various television sets in his basement, and soon realizes he can not only see and hear dead people, but too find people who are not dead but are paces away from meeting their fate, prompting him to play God with strangers.
With Keaton at the helm, you get the sense that, buried underneath all the flash-in-the-pan jump-scares (and there really aren't many) and overcast atmosphere, there is a gripping angle of this story fighting to rise to the surface. There's a movie to be made about a man who becomes so distraught over his wife's unexpected death that he falls into a rabbit-hole of searching for messages in scrambled soundwaves, not because they're there, but because he wants them to be there. Someone like Adrian Lyne, who has long been privy to stories of domestic unrest with thriller undertones, would've been ideal to conceptualize such a film. White Noise lacks both the scares to sell the underlying creepiness, and the depth of human interest to make its far-fetched narrative work.
Director Geoffrey Sax, making his American directorial debut, and writer Niall Johnson poorly pull off Jonathan's change-of-heart when he shifts his focus from trying to contact his wife to attempting to save people in danger. This makes the core of the narrative lose a lot of the emotional heft it could've had, and ultimately steers White Noise towards a pit of predictable supernatural fodder, much of which left unexplained by an unsatisfying, borderline incoherent climax.
There's a reason White Noise was dumped into theaters during what is ordinarily the chilliest stretch of wintertime for much of America. Being that the late 2000s and much of the next decade were defined by paranormal cheapies and sequels, it really shouldn't have been the poster-child for studios to copy.
Starring: Michael Keaton, Ian McNeice, Deborah Kara Unger, and Chandra West. Directed by: Geoffrey Sax.