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White Noise (2005)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Horror, Mystery  |  7 January 2005 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 39,713 users   Metascore: 30/100
Reviews: 404 user | 173 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

An architect's desire to speak with his wife from beyond the grave, becomes an obsession with supernatural repercussions.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jane
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Detective Smits
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Police Woman
Brad Sihvon ...
Minister
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Work Man
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Business Man
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Susie Tomlinson
Suzanne Ristic ...
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Carol Black - Car Crash Woman
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Storyline

The car of successful author Anna Rivers is found disabled next to the river, the thought being that she accidentally fell into the river while trying to change a flat tire. Her dead body is found upstream several weeks later, consistent with the accidental death theory. Based on incidents around him, her grieving husband, architect Jonathan Rivers, decides several months later to visit with Raymond Price, who approached John prior to Anna's body being found with news that she was trying to contact him from beyond. At that time, John was skeptical of Raymond's claims of electronic voice phenomena (EVP): that he is contacted from the beyond through electronic means - radio, television - which he is able to record. Along with Sarah Tate, another of Raymond's "clients" whose fiancé passed away, John becomes obsessed with EVP as he gets more and more audio and video messages, however fuzzy, from Anna from beyond. That obsession takes a slight change in focus when John believes that Anna ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The voices of the dead are all around you. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

7 January 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Voces del más allá  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,787,478 (UK) (7 January 2005)

Gross:

$158,714 (South Africa) (29 April 2005)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) is claimed by adherents of the paranormal, to be of 'other-worldly' origins', and was not invented by the film's makers. See more »

Goofs

When Mike is flipping through the channels on television, he stops on a news report about Mary Freeman. After a close up of Mike's face, the next shot shows cartoons on television but we still hear the voice of the reporter for a second before we hear the sound of him changing the channel to cartoons. See more »

Quotes

Jonathan Rivers: You were outside my house and now you're outside my office, so do me a favor, don't insult my intelligence by telling me it's some sort of coincidence.
See more »

Crazy Credits

White static and flickering, subliminal images appear over the opening credits. It then segues into the opening scene. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Benchwarmers (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Burn Away
Written and Performed by Ray O'Donnell, Liam Carty and Fran Carlyon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Works because of set design, cinematography and atmosphere
20 January 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) is a successful architect. His wife, Anna (Chandra West) is an even more successful novelist. When Anna goes missing one night, they fear she is dead. Suddenly, an odd man named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) shows up and tells Jonathan that his wife has been trying to contact him from "the other side", via Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs). Rivers also gradually gets wrapped up in EVPs, which lead him to some unusual situations and the heart of a mystery.

I had a very divided reaction to White Noise. Some aspects were excellent, but in many ways, the film had potential that was never actualized. There are also some flaws that kept drawing me out of the film's universe. Overall I felt the film worked, but probably not as writer Niall Johnson and director Geoffrey Sax intended.

Let's talk about what the film did right first. The major assets, as mentioned in the title of my review, were the production/set design, cinematography and overall atmosphere. The latter largely hinges on the first two. The production/set design and cinematography were nearly perfect. Everything was focused on the idea of white noise, especially the most well known visual depiction of white noise--television "static" or "snow". The credits introduced a motif of jarring intrusions of white noise, which occasionally recurred throughout the film (although perhaps not enough). There were clever instantiations of a visual "white noise" theme in the sets, such as the outside waterfall on the lower level of Jonathan's apartment building, and the wall of glass blocks inside his apartment. The color scheme was white, silver and blue, washed out so that the film had an almost black and white feel. There were also more abstract references to white noise, such as the running water motif (water dynamics are mathematically chaotic, as is white noise, which is also thought of as being literally random), and the arcing electricity. All of this combined to provide a wonderful, gloomy atmosphere, and in another film, would easily compensate for any minor flaws to bring the film up to a 10.

However, there are a number of problems with White Noise. Keaton's performance was the major sticking point for me. He seems aloof and brooding throughout the entire film. While that may have been perfect for Batman, it doesn't work for me here. Both McNeice and Deborah Kara Unger (as Sarah Tate) were fine, but their roles were minor enough to not be able to carry the film. I usually like Keaton a lot, and I can't say that I dislike him here, but his performance is very odd and off-putting.

Another problem was the pacing. For a long time, White Noise may as well have been a realist drama. While that's fine for other films, it also doesn't tend to work in a horror/thriller. The only directors I've seen really able to pull that combination off effectively are Alfred Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan. It takes so long to get to the horror/thriller part of the story that many people likely either lose interest by that point, or they're interested because they'd rather see a realist drama, and the more supernatural ending will be unsatisfying for them. The pacing also doesn't fit with the white noise/chaos motif. This is a film that should have been edited like a Michael Bay vehicle.

Finally, I had a number of problems with the story. One, there are quite a few superfluous elements (such as Jonathan's son). Two, although I'm not someone who usually complains about genre combinations, there was an attempt to make White Noise both a "benevolent spirit" story, ala Ghost (1990) and a Ring (2002)-like otherworldly threat. The two just didn't meld. Three, the thriller aspect, which enters primarily at the climax of the film, seems too tacked on to engender an appropriate emotional reaction from the audience. And four, the supernatural aspects and especially the "twist revelation" of the ending are very rushed and unpleasantly ambiguous, possibly in an attempt to hide the fact that the plot in these respects wasn't very well thought out. There is a tremendous amount of potential in the script, and it is entertaining enough to marginally recommend, but this seems more like an early draft that was rushed to completion, or possibly a film that suffered a lot of studio meddling.

The bottom line is that while there are enough positive elements to make White Noise worth a watch to serious genre fans and students of film-making, do not expect the story to grab you by the short and curlies, and do not expect much of a resolution. Enjoy the film primarily for its visuals. I'm generously rating the film a 7 out of 10.


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