Haunted Movie Review:
White Noise (2005)
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Michael Keaton … Jonathan Rivers
Chandra West … Anna Rivers
Deborah Kara Unger … Sarah Tate
Ian McNeice … Raymond Price
Sarah Strange … Jane
Nicholas Elia … Mike Rivers
Is it possible for the dead to continue to communicate once they have passed into another realm? White Noise attempts to address just that; the concept of Electronic Voice Phenomenon, a method in which the dead utilize recording equipment as a medium through which to make contact with the living. But is this astonishing gift just a hoax? Moreover, if EVP is an actual phenomenon, what does that imply for all those spirits out there who may not harbor warm feelings towards the living? In a heart-racing tale of death, depression, and discovery, “White Noise” will visually display the paradox that is the phenomenon of EVP in successful practice, focusing on the character John Rivers and his recently deceased wife, Anna.
It seems everything is going according to plan for Jonathan Rivers, successful estate agent, father of little rascal Mikey, and proud husband of his beautiful author wife, Anna; mother to be. But on a night that is supposed to be friendly cocktails and celebrating for Anna’s upcoming novel, Anna leaves home never to return. Mysteriously, in the middle of the night the clock on the wall stops and suddenly all the electronic appliances in the house go berserk. Could it be Anna’s warning of her passing? Or, is it just a power surge?
The next day Anna’s car is found wrecked on the side of the road, her body missing. Local officials prognosticate that Anna was thrown and drowned in the Marina, but without a body there is no conclusive evidence. Grief stricken, Jonathan attempts to go about his daily routine, with an obvious dilapidation in character and zeal. It isn’t until Jonathan notices he is being followed by a presence that he feels he has anything to live for. Approaching Jonathan, the man declares himself to be an expert medium in the assistance of communication between the living and the dead via EVP. Raymond Price claims that this EVP is the exact convention in which Jonathan’s wife, Anna, has been trying to contact him.
But Jonathan isn’t entirely convinced and would like to think the man more quack than fact. Anna won’t desist with her attempts at contact and neither will Raymond with his efforts to convince Jonathan of the validity of this phenomenon. It isn’t until the police show up with news of having found Anna’s body that Jonathan begins to believe that Raymond price may be right.
Flash forward to six months later where Jonathan’s cell phone rings, having been dialed from Anna’s cell! Contacting Raymond, Rivers heads to his house to learn more about the paranormal activities of EVP. It is there, six months later that Rivers begins to believe, after Raymond plays back a tape with a recording of Anna’s voice. Upon the discovery of the EVPs validity, Rivers becomes obsessed with the concept of EVP. In fact, he goes and purchases all of the necessary equipment and sets up shop at home, staying up nights on end in hopes of receiving another contact from his wife.
In addition to the spooky messages however, the deceased can also allegedly make contact through image, by appearing on a distorted television screen of snow. As they begin to appear on the recording, a shadowy yet discernible image appears in contrast to the snow (white noise); allowing one to see their deceased in another realm. But as Jonathan’s endeavors increase, his attention to his everyday responsibilities, including that of his own son, begin to wane.
Eventually Jonathan is contacted by what seems to be a menacing spirit(s). Though he has no solid proof, the spirits appear in a shadowy trio, and when their message is finally deciphered, it is anything but friendly. As Anna begins to project images of people’s deaths over EVP, strangely deaths paralleling those in EVP begin to occur in the real world. Are these dead spirits the cause behind the mystery deaths that haven’t yet occurred? Of course this theory poses a huge problem for people’s opinions of Jonathan’s sanity, and thus he confided only in his friend Raymond Price, the medium suddenly found dead in his vandalized house.
Not sure what to do, Jonathan visits a palm reader who tells him that there is something out there who wants him to stop interfering. She also tells him to visit Willow Ave. As the mystery unravels people begin to die, one by one, including River’s close friend Sarah. With news of a missing women being broadcast on the news, Jonathan realizes Anna is telling him to go find her and save her from death. What’s more, her location holds the answer to all of River’s questions about EVP, Anna’s death, and the involvement of the shadowy menaces. In the final climactic moment Rivers discovers the premeditation of his wife’s death and the possibility that not all white noise is a friendly hello.
Overall the special effects were rather subtle, yet tasteful. Much of the effects focused on the production of images and shadows, which, though not spectacular in content, were intriguingly alluring and aided in the production of suspense. The ending however was a difficult endeavor for the director. I personally was disappointed and felt that the climax was rushed and incomplete. Though the mystery is revealed, there is no lingering tension between the moment of climax and the downward descent towards the ending; the intriguing final scene that immediately follows thereafter however, possibly justifies its waning predecessor. I believe each viewer will walk away with a different opinion about the film itself. As for the subject matter, I could not imagine a single viewer not being truly intrigued, or at least mystified and even frightened by the concept of EVP: a concept that was the anchor and saving grace of the film.
Pay attention to the scenes involving the analysis and deciphering of EVP. The scenes are done very tastefully and the most unnerving part is the knowledge that this in an actual event that occurs in reality. These scenes render the true feelings of horror and delight, a paradox of mixed emotions that result from the frightening enjoyment of contacting the dead.
With a rather poignant performance from Michael Keaton, “White Noise” is an extremely intriguing film. What’s more, the scariest part of the film is the realization that EVP is an actual valid practice with documented evidence of contact for the past century. This is not some ‘hoaxy’ story told to scare you into bed. EVP is a real-life phenomenon that doesn’t always render the friendliest of consequences. If anything “White Noise” should be watched for the mere edification of the phenomenon of EVP. The scariest part may not be the movie itself, but rather the realization that the valid convention of EVP allows for the movie’s scenario to actually happen in real life! This may be the first frighteningly realistic ghost tale in a very long time.
Michael Keaton is Jonathan Rivers, a man haunted by the mysterious disappearance and death of his beloved wife Anna, who seems to be trying to contact him from another dimension.
Chandra West is Anna Rivers, a beloved writer and wife of Jonathan Rivers, whose night out with the girls, turns out to be her last.
Ian McNeice is Raymond Price, the paranormal medium that helps Rivers come in contact with his wife through the phenomenon of EVP.