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Still shot from the movie: White Noise.

White Noise

Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) desperately tries to communicate with his recently deceased wife after an Electronic Voice Phenomena specialist (Ian McNeice) convinces him she's trying to send a message. According to EVP experts, the sound of white noise is the perfect backdrop for hearing messages from beyond the grave. Get the movie review and more. »


Overall: C
Violence: B-
Sexual Content: B+
Language: C-
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Theater Release: 06 Jan 2005
Video Release: 16 May 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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For years, horror films have tried to convince you that ordinary things in life are actually scary beyond belief. In Signs it was wind chimes, in The Ring it was an old VHS tape, for Hitchcock fans it's birds and showers. Now, thanks to the release of this film, you won't want to be lingering between stations on your radio.

The term "white noise" refers to an equal distribution of frequencies across the audio spectrum. Huh? OK… it's that SHHHHHH sound your TV makes when it is set to a vacant channel (although most new sets go quiet now) or when your FM radio is between stations. Even waterfalls can create white noise.

But while most of us react by screaming "Turn that noise off!", there are a few convinced this sound is the perfect backdrop for hearing messages from the dead. Just listen long and hard, perhaps for days, and you may discover what your great-grandmother really thought of your choice for a spouse. Better yet, stare at those sparkly dots on the television for a while and the faces of those who have passed on may glance by.

In reality, there truly is an organization dedicated to researching this strange occurrence, dubbed EVP for Electronic Voice Phenomena. Their website, aaevp.com, claims they are the basis of the plot for this film, in which Michael Keaton's character Jonathan Rivers, desperately tries to communicate with his recently deceased wife after an EVP specialist (Ian McNeice) convinces him she's trying to send a message from the beyond.

A few days later, the architect has filled his home with hissing televisions, VCRs, and other electronics, in the hopes of seeing or hearing anything. With what seems like weeks going by, it's hard to believe Jonathan still has a job and child welfare services haven't picked up his neglected son. But just when this looks like a hopeless activity, all heaven breaks loose, and the widower has more channels to the dearly departed than a cable TV junkie has movies.

Full of typical scenes of dark and stormy nights, and fleeting images of who-knows-what, the movie White Noise pulls all the usual "made you jump" levers. Things also get a little gruesome after a woman falls from a balcony onto a glass roof and another man succumbs to some heavy viewing when it appears his television has fallen on top of him. Other parental concerns include an unknown drug provided to a female in an attempt to make her an easy target for a visiting spirit, and a few profanities including a sexual expletive.

Obviously, families who don't want kids exploring paranormal issues will consider the entire theme of this film to be unacceptable. Yet, even though it's likely to scare young ones, adults may find themselves yawning. From a thriller standpoint, the conclusion doesn't do much to help things gel together into one of those, "Oh, now I get it!" moments. Instead, you're left wondering what you missed in this movie that makes more noise than sense.

White Noise is rated PG-13: for violence, disturbing images and language.

Cast: Michael Keaton, Ian McNeice
Studio: 2005 Universal Studios

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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