White Noise (2005) / Mystery-Horror
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 101 min.
Cast: Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West, Ian McNeice, Sarah Strange, Nicholas Ella
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Screenplay: Niall Johnson
Review published January 18, 2005
Creepy but inconsequential, White Noise does just enough to hold your interest, but where it ultimately goes doesn't really pay off returns for your time spent. Longtime television director Geoffrey Sax does punch up the mystery, taking his sweet time in letting the events unfold, although a few tells here and there will probably keep most viewers a step ahead most of the time. The subject matter offers up fascinating possibilities, and when you hear the plot, you might actually think it could be good, or at least entertaining. Alas, the implausibility factor creeps in, as it usually does in many quasi-horror spook fests, and by the end of the film, if you haven't disowned it altogether, you'll probably wish the film's creators had taken a different direction.
Michael Keaton (Desperate Measures, Jackie Brown) plays architect Jonathan Rivers, who is enjoying his days as a loving father and husband to his adoring wife, Anna (Chandra West). Then, his wife goes missing, and in the interim, he is being followed by a man who claims his wife is dead because he has been receiving messages from her through his EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). When Anna does turn up dead, Jonathan contacts the man, and with his guidance becomes convinced in the reality of the electronics to hear voices from the dead. While trying to get in contact with his wife, he discovers other voices are also talking to him, leading him to different situations and places, as he tries to piece together just what the purpose of the white noise is.
White Noise has a few intriguing elements, and probably would have been an entertaining episode of "The Outer Limits", but somehow it just doesn't feel substantive enough to challenge on a big screen scale. As with most mysteries, the less you know, the better it is, but most fail when all the cards are finally revealed. This one is no exception, as the finale and epilogue really drop the ball in explanation and execution.
Keaton is fine in a serious role, and the supporting cast of female actresses perform well in their limited roles. It's a shame they are stuck in a film that appears to be a rough draft for what might potentially be a good film if all of the plot holes were filled in, and the sloppier moments could be ironed out.
My recommendation: wait for cable, and perhaps you'll feel less disappointed by this high-concept, low brain cell diversion.
©2005 Vince Leo