White Noise

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

While it’s nice to see Michael Keaton back on screen again, I wish it hadn’t been in “White Noise”. Keaton is a fine actor who can do drama as well as comedy, but things seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle here as I was totally lost. The movie has a unique concept, but that doesn’t necessarily make it original. I put this movie somewhere between a cross of “Ghost” and “Frequency” – both superior movies. I’ll say that the film isn’t without entertainment value, it just left a lot up to the audience to decide; whereas I felt more explanation was necessary. The concept of speaking to the dead or EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) as they like to throw around in the movie, may or may not exist. I’m not here to debate the semantics of speaking to the dead. Director Geoffrey Sax has made his foray into the world of film (his prior experience has been on television) and though he has a very creative eye, something got lost in the mix. At any rate, the plot is as follows – but if you’re like me then you’ll figure everything out fairly quickly…

Keaton plays Jonathan Rivers, a successful architect in some unknown city (I figure it to be Seattle?) whose wife is killed in a freak car accident. They really don’t show it, just re-enact it (so as to convince us that she’s dead), and the troubles begin. As Jonathan tries to get on with his life, he’s approached by a strange man who explains the concept of EVP to him. He’s thrown by it at first, but later he turns this hobby into an obsession. As he burrows deeper and deeper into the realm of the dead, it’s clear that there are “good” people and “bad” people on the other side. What I fail to understand is how he goes about recording the dead! Does he just turn it to channel 3 and record the static? This is the central core behind the movie and they don’t go into a lot of detail about how he goes about recording. Instead they rely on shocking images (but not that shocking) and clichés that prattle on until the ending scene. Rivers also meets the lovely Sarah Tate (Deborah Kara Unger) who is grieving as well and becomes his partner-in-crime. As a final twist, Jonathan discovers that he’s been receiving EVP from people that aren’t yet dead. So now he’s out to solve murders before they happen. Or does he? I dunno…there just seemed to be too much going on for me to keep track of. “White Noise” is a perfectly good movie if you suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours, but I didn’t find as stimulating as I’d thought it would be. Fans of the horror genre will undoubtedly give it rental, while I’d suggest that everyone else rent “Ghost” or “Frequency” for a better movie.

Video: How does it look?

“White Noise” is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio. In nearly every scene, it’s either cloudy or raining. This does give the film a very saturated look and feel, but it’s very consistent with the rest of the movie. Colors are bold and even vivid in some outdoor scenes. As you might expect, there are a lot of darker scenes and this can be bad news when it comes to some compression artifacts and black levels. I’m happy to say that the transfer handles it almost perfectly. While this isn’t reference-quality, it’s just a tick below. The transfer is very representative of a new to DVD release and those wanting a great-looking DVD won’t be disappointed.

Audio: How does it sound?

“White Noise” has a very solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that more than gets the job done. Surrounds are used at very key points during the film (and the effect works, trust me) and both tracks make perfect use of the sound. Dialogue seems natural and clear as well. I couldn’t really pinpoint any area that really made me sit up and take notice, but after having watched some older films I could tell that this newer track certainly has an advantage over earlier movies. In any regard, the sound is great without being exceptionally great…if that makes any sense.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The DVD comes with a few supplements, most of which are on the whole “EVP” phenomenon. The E.V.P. features include Hearing Is Believing: Actual E.V.P. Sessions, Making Contact: E.V.P. Experts, and Recording the Afterlife at Home. Each of these holds merit, but after seeing the movie (and the eventual end), I can’t imagine anyone wanting to try this at home. There are apparently experts in this field and they’re interviewed here. Some deleted scenes are included as well, but all in all these supplements don’t really help all that much. “White Noise” was a good concept with poor execution – fear not as Micahel Keaton’s career will most certainly recover.

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