Ever since the phenomenal success of “The Sixth Sense”, films dealing with the supernatural have been an ever increasing presence at theaters world wide as studios attempt to find the next break out film in the genre to ensure lucrative box office and video returns.
The latest foray into the Supernatural is the new Michael Keaton film White Noise, which is based on the actual study of E.V.P. or Electronic Voice Phenomena which is reputed some paranormal investigators to be the voices of dead people speaking to the living via static in electronic devices.
Although the factuality of this is still a topic of hot debate, as after decades of study, no conclusive finding either way as to the legitimacy of E.V.P. have been found as many people attribute the supposed voices as simply the mind hearing what it wants to hear. Despite this, there are a growing number of groups and organizations worldwide who are dedicated to the study of E.V.P.
The film centers on Jonathan Rivers’s (Michael Keaton), a successful architect who is married to a best selling author Anna (Chandra West). The couple is anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child as Jonathan has a son from a previous marriage and is thrilled to see his family grow
Tragedy sets in when Anna goes missing and eventually is found dead after an apparent accident. Jonathan has his world collapse around him yet and is living in a state of despair. Shortly, a man named Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) comes to Jonathan claiming that he has been receiving messages from Anna from the afterlife. Jonathan is at first dismissive but when he gets calls on his cell that are originating from Anna’s cell number; he visits Raymond and learns about E.V.P.
Jonathan becomes drawn into the study of E.V.P. and soon becomes obsessed with recording voices and images from the afterlife as he is desperate to stay in contact with Anna. All is not well though as Raymond failed to tell Jonathan that there are evil and dangerous entities in the afterlife and they can also use E.V.P. as a way to access and influence the living.
Jonathan also meets a fellow E.V.P user named Sara (Deborah Kara Unger), who like Jonathan becomes involved in a deeper and darker mystery as Jonathan begins to decipher a pattern behind the messages as well as the intentions behind them.
White Noise starts well as a solid mystery and had a few moments where what you imagine is often more intense than what the reality really is. Early in the film there are some good chills and creepy moments as the story unfolds. Roughly ¾ of the way into the film, the tone of the film changes from supernatural thriller to that of a mystery and I suspect that the film will lose many people at this point. The film was working well as a thrill, yet the last ¼ of the film and the conclusion become confused and sporadic as the momentum and flow of the film is lost.
The conclusion was unsatisfying as I was able to see where it was going and based on the very promising first hour of the film, it was sad to see that the film took the easy way out and relied on tired premises instead of continuing to forge ahead with the new premise and take it to what should have been a much better and more logical conclusion.
Keaton does solid work and carries the film very well. It is great to see him back on the big screen as he is a gifted and versatile actor who is capable of handling a wide range of roles.
While not a bad film, White Noise is sunk by the issues with the finale that I mentioned above. That being said, it is an entertaining film that aside from the ending, does generally work and holds the attention of the viewer.
3.5 stars out of 5