The pre-publicity for White Noise made much effort to let the audience know that Electronic Voice Phenomenon was a real occurrence. Setting aside ones natural scepticism as to whether electronic static contains spiritual manifestations, one has no doubt that the film has done its research as to what (supposedly) happens with EVP. Films like this based on the exploration of one gimmick have a tendency to become dull expositions. White Noise starts out this way but soon segues into something genuinely spooky.
In very short time, the film absorbs one in an eldritch uncanniness the sense of there being something beyond this ken, moreover something malevolent in intent. The film is filled with intimidating moments of shadowy things jumping out at or coming into focus on tv screens. Geoffrey Sax creates some unnervingly eerie moments the first appearance of the indistinct phantom shapes as Michael Keaton listens to the recordings and the audio track starts screaming is a considerable jolt. So too are the scenes where Keaton starts to pick up premonitions in advance and especially the scene where he goes to visit psychic Connor Tracy and is given a stern warning. The mood of the film is superb this is one of the few ghost stories of the recent period that left one feeling spooked.
On the minus side, the film suffers from weak scripting. The characters are slackly developed. Despite having a good cast line-up Michael Keaton, Ian McNeice and the underrated Canadian actresses Deborah Kara Unger and Sarah Strange these are roles that could have been played by anybody. The least satisfying aspect is the ending. While Geoffrey Sax creates a mood that suggests a genuinely threatening menace lying beyond the known horizon, nothing about the figures in the afterlife is ever explained and all that the film eventually telescopes down to is a mundane story about the creatures aiding a serial killer. The wrap-up feels perfunctory, as though it were inserted more to bring the story to a resolution than anything that comes with aforethought. This is something that makes White Noise into little more than another clairvoyant murder mystery along the lines of films like Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), In Dreams (1999) and Stir of Echoes (1999). The film also goes out on a decided downer. A pity, as the rest of it creates a genuine sense of atmosphere.
White Noise: The Light (2007) was a disappointing sequel, which abandoned all connection to this film and even mention of Electronic Voice Phenomenon.