The whole concept of EVP – electronic voice phenomenon – is a perfect grounding for a supernatural horror movie. The idea of poor quality tape and video playback, which is basically what EVP produces would be a nice ‘cheap’ topic for a low budget company to exploit; however, ironically enough ‘White Noise’ is anything but cheap. Pulling in Michel Keaton, who delivers a moving and genuine performance, and having a range of interesting and sleek locations within which to film, this movie looks as sleek and polished as many higher budget Hollywood horror movies.
The plot of white noise is simple on paper, but somehow seems so much more complex as it unravels on screen. Simply put, Keaton’s character is plunged into an obsession with EVP after the untimely death of his partner. After receiving information that his Mrs had been trying to contact him from the beyond, he becomes desperate to hear what she has to say and hooks up with another like-minded individual in order to find the truth. Needless to say it isn’t long before he’s receiving messages from other deceased who want to say more than just ‘goodbye’.
The plot is good, and the pace is lightening. The story has a few decent twists and turns to keep it going, and there is a good deal of genuine drama, which for whatever reason is actually quite compelling. The acting is of a good standard, and despite the obscure nature of the subject material all the cast play their part with conviction. The dialogue is adequate, if a little cliché at time, and the locations, as I said in the opening paragraph, keep even the more mundane scenes from being dull. All of this is commendable but what makes ‘White Noise’ stand out from the pack is that it never forgets the scares with several set pieces throughout the movie delivering shock scares which never fail to get you!
I don’t think that you will find many people who make the link, quite possibly because it isn’t really substantiated, however, I couldn’t help but find so many similarities between the scare tactics in ‘White Noise’ and those in modern releases, and I wonder how many movies this has influenced since its release. The movie is literally filled with the most condensed jump scares I’ve seen in a while. Some are fairly well telegraphed, but others come literally out of the blue. There not particularly spine tingling, but really give you a jolt when they come. Even after watching several times they still pack a punch. The typical quiet scenes, close-up camera shots which lead to loud noises and horrific images may seem as cliché now, but at the time it was a real breath of fresh air from countless teen horrors which were flavour of the month at the time.
The movie stays tight to its formula right until the end. Up to the end, aside from the odd part here and there, the movie sticks well within the EVP theme, with most of the ghostly goings on caught either on audio tape or VHS; that is, until the end. God knows why, but right in the final scene the movie takes an absurd shift towards the cheesy FX end of the spectrum and completely kills the movies atmosphere. The ending is no doubt the result of studio pressure wanting the final scene to leave nothing to the imagination, which it doesn’t. Quite frankly my imagination was doing quite well up to that point, and the images in my head were far scarier than the poor CGI ghosts presented to me in the dying minutes of the movie. It’s a poor, slap dash finale to what is otherwise a subtle and genuinely scary movie.
Despite this however, overall, for a movie which also has a heart, ‘White Noise’ is a definite creeper which is perfect for those who are looking for a movie with genuine and enjoyable scares. Sure the ending is ridiculous, and the supernatural parts do open up some continuity issues, but just sit back relax and see one of those movies you can watch over and over and still be entertained.