5.5/10
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407 user 179 critic

White Noise (2005)

PG-13 | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 7 January 2005 (USA)
Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
An architect's desire to speak with his wife from beyond the grave becomes an obsession with supernatural repercussions.

Director:

Geoffrey Sax

Writer:

Niall Johnson
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Keaton ... Jonathan Rivers
Chandra West ... Anna Rivers
Deborah Kara Unger ... Sarah Tate
Ian McNeice ... Raymond Price
Sarah Strange ... Jane
Nicholas Elia ... Mike Rivers
Mike Dopud ... Detective Smits
Marsha Regis ... Police Woman
Brad Sihvon Brad Sihvon ... Minister
Mitchell Kosterman ... Work Man
L. Harvey Gold ... Business Man
Amber Rothwell ... Susie Tomlinson
Suzanne Ristic Suzanne Ristic ... Mary Freeman
Keegan Connor Tracy ... Mirabelle
Miranda Frigon ... 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:

There are nearly 7 billion audio and video recording devices in homes around the world. Everyone of them is a portal. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The recording used in the trailer that is attributed to Stanley Searles ("I love you") is thought to be the "ghostly" voice of Searles, a former politician who died in 2002. The recording was said to have been made by Searles' daughter, a well-known EVP researcher named Karen Mossey. See more »

Goofs

When the news crews report about finding Anna's body, they say it was found upstream. Upstream would mean that her body floated against the current. See more »

Quotes

Jonathan Rivers: I'm sorry Mikey.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References The Salton Sea (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere Out There
Written by Duncan Coutts, Michael Maida and Jeremy Taggart
Performed by Our Lady Peace
Courtesy of Sony Entertainment (Canada) Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Works because of set design, cinematography and atmosphere
20 January 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee 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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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Russia] | UIP [France] | See more »

Country:

UK | Canada | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 January 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

White Noise See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,113,565, 9 January 2005

Gross USA:

$56,386,759

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$91,196,419
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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