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
White Noise is a film that takes a true scientific phenomenon, and makes a film out of it. The phenomenon is one which involves electronic recording/broadcast equipment. In amongst white-noise (that crackle and hiss you get on a blank recording) and static on untuned TV reception there are voices and images discernible. Sometimes these voices have been clear enough to work out, and many people believe they are the voices and images of those who have died, trying to contact the living.
In the film, Michael Keaton plays Jonathan Rivers, an estate agent who loses his wife. When he is approached by Raymond, a man who lost his son years ago and claims he has heard from Jonathan's wife, it draws him into the phenomenon, and pretty soon he becomes obsessed, recording his own tapes and viewing/listening to them for messages. Then, suddenly, the messages become clear, and seem to be premonitions. Can he decipher the meaning of the messages, or will he disturb something best left alone? I was uncertain going into the film what to expect. Too many times the film world have come up with a great concept, but failed to deliver anything more than mediocre when it is a horror subject. Expecting another Godsend, I was pleasantly surprised to find a pretty good film, with some nice touches, and chills. Admittedly the story wouldn't look out of place on X-Files, but unlike the recent The Forgotten, it manages to feel complete, and doesn't seem to take the easy option at the end.
The direction by Sax (best know for his TV work such as Tipping the Velvet, Dr Who, Clocking Off, and Spitting Image to name a few) is more than sufficient, and he uses the white-noise to great effect. A little buzz here, and flicker there all serve to unnerve, and you could be forgiven for thinking you are watching another Japanese adaptation. There are a lot of similarities to eastern horror throughout, the use of silence the unnerve, the distorted images in the TV sets, and so on. Only the occasion "music to let you know you should jump" lets down the tone.
Nevertheless, with a well woven script which doesn't pander to the lowest denominator, and a sterling performance from Michael Keaton, who hasn't really had a presence on the screen since 1998s Jack Frost, make this an enjoyable little movie which deserves a viewing or two.
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