Director: Geoffrey Sax | 101 minutes | drama, science fiction, horror, thriller | Actors: Michael Keaton, Chandra West, Deborah Kara Unger, Ian McNeice, Sarah Strange, Nicholas Elia, Mike Dopud, Mitchell Kosterman
Scary movies for adults, it remains a tricky endeavor. Are there still horror films that really scare you? “White Noise” partially succeeds. Geoffrey Sax’s film, which made a name for itself with TV series such as Bergerac, Spitting Image and more recently The Van Helsing Chronicles, falls on two minds and that is both its strength and weakness.
Jonathan Rivers is introduced to the Electronic Voice Phenomenon by a Raymond Price – the man stalks Rivers after being on TV that his wife is missing. Price appears to have built an extensive media center in his living room that produces vague messages and gritty images of ghosts. They are the dead – including Anna – and they want to warn us who else is in danger of leaving the earthly soon.
Grief-stricken Rivers becomes addicted to the opportunity to connect with Anna, but soon realizes that the messages can save lives. The scenes that follow are the strongest in the movie. Rivers rescues a baby from a car wreck, among other things, and his race against death is occasionally portrayed seriously macabre and convincingly, supported by cutting sound effects.
At the end it all gets a bit vague, but more about that below. “White Noise” navigates between a whodunnit and a horror film and regularly misleads the viewer, right up to the denouement. This is due to the fact that Sax does not opt for the etheric spiritism that is central in this film. Why not? Well, it’s hard to get a happy ending when it comes to contact with the dead. He is going for a thriller and that is wise: are they dark forces or is there just a murderous radio amateur behind it? In this way you also keep the people who don’t like the EVP phenomenon in the room.
Michael Keaton delivers a decent performance in “White Noise”, but his opponents get very little playing time. Deborah Kara Unger is Sarah’s fellow sufferer; her character and relationship with Rivers are barely elaborated. Raymond Price’s figure also quickly disappears from the scene.
You actually expect the makers to give way to Keaton’s battle with the evil forces, but at the end, an insignificant character is performed again and then another turnaround is made. It turns out to be difficult for the makers to finish the story; the choice between a living and a “spiritualized” murderer is not made. Encourage Sax to make such a nasty film – because after “White Noise” you no longer go shopping happily or propose to your loved one – but a little sloppy for such a big production.