Deborah Kara Unger
Ghosts / EVP
Trivia The recording used in the trailer that is attributed to Stanley Searles ("I love you.") is thought to be the "ghostly" voice of Searles himself, a former politician who died in 2002. The recording was said to have been made by Searles' daughter, an well-known EVP researcher named Karen Mossey.
The EVP recording from the trailer ("I will see you no more.") that is attributed to a woman named Ruth Baxter who died in 1987, is supposedly a recording from Point Lookout, a "haunted" lighthouse in Maryland, made by an EVP researcher named Sarah Estep. The lighthouse was used as a hospital during the Civil War and some interpretations of the recording believe it to say, "I was seeing the war," or "I was seeing the water." While the recording is said to be authentic by the AAEVP, the Ruth Baxter story is fiction.
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White Noise (2005)
27th Jun 05
The great subject matter of electronic voice phenomena (EVP) is confusingly portrayed as Michael Keaton becomes obsessed with contacting his dead wife through electronic devices.
Ever seriously considered contacting the dead? If you answer is “yes” then you may want to have a look at White Noise. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t bother.
Jonathan Rivers’ (Michael Keaton) pregnant wife (Anna) is missing. He’s holding on to hope until one day when he is approached by Raymond Price – a father who lost his son. Price tells him that she is dead, and that he has made contact with her from the other side. This understandably upsets Keaton but eventually Anna’s body is found so he decides to look Price up to find out a) if what he says is true and b) if Anna is at peace.
It seems that Price is an expert in contacting the dead via EVP – electronic voice phenomena - a complicated looking set-up involving computers, radios, TVs, microphones, etc. Price helps other people put their minds at rest by letting them contact the person to say that they’re happy, at rest. They appear on the television screen very faintly but one can only pick up on brief fragments, mainly one or two words, coming from the other side. Keaton hears Anna on the first day he tries – she says “Jonathan”. From this point on he is obsessed with EVP.
One day he finds Price dead in his house, the place is wrecked and destroyed and we’re suitably intrigued to know why. But we’re also sad because Price seemed like such a nice guy. What follows is a Hollywood-style lesson in EVP as we follow Keaton’s discovery that he is in fact seeing dead people through the titular white noise before they are actually dead. Pretty spooky eh?
If there is any kind of discernable message in White Noise, it’s don’t mess around with EVP. Point taken. It’s a confusing film and I’m really sorry to say that Keaton’s performance is flat, dull, disappointing. The rest of the film isn’t much different. It seems to run at a snail’s pace and way too many questions are left unanswered. Who are the three ghostly figures that keep appearing? Granted, they look pretty darn creepy, but it’s one of those many narrative avenues that doesn’t seem to reach a conclusion.
Similarly, when Keaton hears hostile voices coming through with lines like “bastard pig!” we want to know who these messages are from, and why they are being transmitted to him. Perhaps this is simply to illustrate that not all the people on the other side are as nice as Anna, but it’s an interesting feature that, frustratingly, doesn’t actually go anywhere in the end.
As Keaton begins to understand that he is predicting who will soon die, he receives messages from Anna telling him to “Get out now”. Presumably she is trying to tell him to stop meddling and get on with life, but of course he doesn’t listen and eventually gets himself into a spot of bother with some nasty looking CG ghosts.
The filmmaker’s techniques used here are nothing new or original, even if they do provoke that jump-out-of-your-seat-in-fright reaction that has become as annoyingly familiar as MacDonald’s “pa da da da da, I’m lovin’ it” jingle. Popcorn-throwing tools like this are certainly effective enough and are sure to awaken you from your slumber should you have fallen asleep in the first 25 minutes, which is a definite possibility. Other techniques used include what I call ‘the white noise interference effect’ which is most of what the opening titles comprise. It looks fine but am I being a complete party pooper by pointing out how predictable that is?
The most fun I had watching White Noise was spotting how many films it was very similar to, and in what way. It is like a special combination movie meal consisting of Poltergeist, Ghost, The 6th Sense, The Dead Zone and Ring which tastes nowhere near as good as any of them. Yes, not even Ghost, because that was ok at the time. And, more importantly, it made sense.
One of the most interesting aspects of White Noise was that it seemed to feel like a Hollywood remake of a Japanese scare fest. It’s like the Americans remade a picture that hasn’t yet been made, with disastrous results. Jesus, I hope no one decides to make the original movie now. Maybe the Japanese film industry should remake lame US flicks like this and do a much better job, thereby demonstrating to Hollywood that they really can do it better…
Admittedly there is something scary, intense and downright intriguing about the idea of receiving messages from beyond, but unfortunately this piece doesn’t satisfy or deliver the goods in that department. If you fancy the idea of watching Michael Keaton watching white noise on a dozen or so TV’s (for a very long time) in an effort to see dead people’s faces, hear what they say, and trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle that you don’t have all the pieces for, then you might enjoy this flick.
If anything is going to convince the general film watching public of EVP’s authenticity, this film is NOT it.
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