Prayer Focus
Movie Review

White Noise

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Drama, Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
2005
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Sequel to this movie: White Noise: The Light

Death

How did death and other bad things originate? Answer

Reincarnation: Does the Bible allow for this possibility? Answer

What is the occult? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

Is marriage eternal? Answer

Am I good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

Who is the being of light encountered in near-death experiences? Answer

What is the eternal destiny of an infant who dies? Answer

The HOPE

The Comforter

Christian Answers EffectiveEvangelism™ site—Learn how to be more effective in sharing the Gospel
Learn how to effectively share your faith
Featuring: Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West, Ian McNeice, Amber Rothwell
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Producer: Shawn Williamson, Paul Brooks, Simon Brooks, Stephen Hegyes
Distributor: Universal Pictures

The dead are trying to get a hold of you.

Here’s what the distributor says about their film:Michael Keaton plays successful architect Jonathan Rivers, whose peaceful existence is shattered by the unexplained disappearance and death of his wife, Anna (Chandra West). Jonathan is eventually contacted by a man (Ian McNeice), who claims to be receiving messages from Anna through EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), the process through which the dead communicate with the living through household recording devices. At first skeptical, Jonathan then becomes convinced of the messages’ validity, and is soon obsessed with trying to contact her on his own. His further explorations into EVP and the accompanying supernatural messages unwittingly open a door to another world, allowing something uninvited into his life.”

It is once to die and then the judgment!

The truth is you really can’t get away from death. It has been said that out of all the surveys taken in this human life, it is 100% sure that everyone will die. 100% is pretty final. There is no question about it. We all will eventually die. No matter who you are, how rich or famous or intelligent or who you know, death is a 100% certainty.

Have you noticed how much of our news centers around death and dying? It is estimated that about 75% of what we see on the news is somehow related to death. We are now living in what many sociologists are calling, “the culture of death.”

No wonder so many movies are made on the subject whether in the study of documentary or full-out gore department, death is a subject of wonder to all of us.

I ran across a very interesting site on the Internet. You can find it at www.longtolive.com. On that Web site they have what is called the “Death Clock.” You type in your date of birth, answer a few questions about your health and it will give you your estimated date of expiration. Now that’s a preoccupation if I ever heard one. I found it humorous, but some people take it pretty seriously. I obviously don’t believe in the accuracy or the validity of the Death Clock. I do know that God knows the time of death for you and for me. That clock is ticking for every one of us.

“White Noise” takes the subject of death a bit further and ponders the after life and the “passing over” of human beings, proposing that they can be contacted by many inventive ways. The main channel used in this film is what is known in the paranormal world as EVP. This film also states there are those who linger to help others in the realm of the living before going on to their destination. It also infers there are those of us who come back (reincarnate). I can assure you that by statistics, with 100% certainty, you are going to die, and when you do, you will not contact anyone left here on Earth, and you are not coming back.

See: REINCARNATION: Does the Bible allow for this possibility? Answer

John Rivers (Michael Keaton at his low key best) is a noted architect married to his second wife Anna (Chandra West), who is a well known, much celebrated writer. They live in a lovely home with John’s son Mike (Nicholas Elia).

As the story begins, it is a typical morning with everyone rushing around getting ready for school and work. Mike’s Mom, Jane (Sarah Strange) John’s e-wife, calls to let them know she is unable to take Mike to school, Anna says it’s no problem for her to do it as she is going into the city anyway. It is established that these are people who are adult and understanding. They have no problem with the way they live their lives and want the audience to know that too.

It also is established that Anna and John are very much in love and have been trying to have a child. When Anna shows John that her pregnancy test proves positive, they are both overjoyed. Hence. the day starts on a positive tone, like most other families in our busy modern world.

John comes home to an empty house and finds a message on the machine from Anna who has decided to stay in town with a girlfriend in need, and he has no problem with that, expecting her home at a normal hour. John nods off to sleep in the living room over some blue prints.

He suddenly awakes at 2:30 in the morning thinking he hears Anna’s car in the drive. Then the clock stops. Anna’s abandoned car is found on the rocky banks of the river at Pier 16, and as the weeks go by it is suspected Anna has been abducted. The news media covers every detail because of Anna’s fame as a writer and through it all John tries to keep himself together.

John has noticed a man following him and when he confronts him, Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) reveals he has been receiving messages from “the other side” from Anna. Anna, Raymond reveals, is not just missing but is in fact dead. John predictably treats Raymond like a kook, but Raymond leaves him his card gently assuring John that “…one day you will want to know.”

Just as 2:30 dawns once again, the Police arrive to give John the sad news that Anna’s body has been found in the river after five long weeks of investigation. Raymond’s words instantly come to mind.

As we watch John’s world crumble around him, the mid part of this film is rather predictable paranormal movie stuff, akin to “Poltergeist” sprinkled with mysterious static from John’s radio and alarm clock He gets stuck in the dark on an elevator. Impossible as it may seem John receives an incoming call on his cell from Anna’s cell. He checks this out at home, finding Anna’s cell phone still wrapped in plastic in a dresser drawer. Just as he goes to replace it there, the mysterious call comes in—once again originating from Anna’s cell. In the early morning hour of 2:30 John awakes from a troubled sleep hearing an incoming message on his answering machine—could it be Anna’s muffled voice? He is able to play it back but once. As he fiddles with the buttons, he accidently erases it.

As in all good paranormal scenarios John finally seeks the help of Raymond the EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) specialist. John is in awe of the time, energy and equipment Raymond has put into contacting the dead and becomes immersed in the process. When asked why he’s doing this “…is it your job, or a hobby?” Raymond excitedly states “It’s more like an obsession!” Raymond also warns of dark spirits, “…be careful. They can’t all be nice; they can’t all be Anna.” John also meets up with a kindred “spirit,” Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), in EVP along the way. Sarah has lost her fiancé and Raymond has helped her to “listen.” When John questions her on how she knew it was the voice of her fiancé, she says “I’ve heard what I wanted to hear.”

When John finds Raymond dead among his books, tapes, and fuzzing electronic equipment the movie’s pace picks up. Now a string of murders occur as John tracks down the same spirits that Raymond was after. Sarah and John become not only paranormal experts, but armature detectives as well, trying to unravel clues given them through the static of their electronic devices to prevent various deaths within their reach. We are taken up a notch from predictable afterlife drama to tense murder mystery.

As John and Sarah follow clue after clue, you want to say “stop now,” but of course they don’t, and that’s what this type of film is all about. It is tense, having the traditional “bumps” and blackouts timed to give you a start out of your seat. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s not a good one and leaves the viewer wishing John had done things a lot differently. For me, of course, I wished he and Sarah could have found the help from the Great Helper, but this is the world and not a Christian viewpoint, whatsoever. Sadly substantiating, our world is not a perfect world without Christ.

Keaton quietly underplays his character, along with his fellow actors which tones down the histrionics, thus letting the mysterious events speak for themselves. Production values, including cool, modern interiors and splendid location work keep it interesting so that one doesn’t want to leave. Even being a believer, I wanted to see this to the end to understand the characters and their motives.

PG-13 is an appropriate rating. Some Christians will never darken the theater doors to see this one because of it’s subject matter. I suggest that you save your money, or wait to rent and view before any children see this one. The idea of a spiritual world is not foreign to God or Christians, it is the way in which it is portrayed, as if there was nothing else, that makes me cringe. One character falls from a balcony and doesn’t die, but it is graphic. There is a sequence at the end of this film that is truly frightening with evil spirits ripping and breaking bones of a character. Although not seen, we can hear this poor human being torn apart and just the thought of it is evil and terrifying.

Profanity was scarce, but when uttered, why it had to be the F-word is always a puzzle to me. The other way profane words were worked into the plot was visual, as written words bas***d and bi**h in a book belonging to Raymond. There was no nudity except for one character in her bathrobe. No love scenes besides married people kissing.

My obvious concern was the lack of God in all of this, but I suppose if He were in there somewhere the script would lose it’s appeal for the intended audience. I found myself wanting to shout “Hey, you guys, go to God, He will help you out of this!” I will save my exuberance for a witness to those God brings upon my path in the course of real life. (That I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel. Ephesians 6:19) Amen.

Christians should instruct their families that there is no such thing as reincarnation or speaking with any loved one who has passed. For those who have gone into glorious life with our Heavenly Father, who would want to come back to this teared world of war, famine, prejudice and desperation? For they are in the place where God Himself wipes away every tear and abolishes every sorrow.

In the real world, I would suspect that the person of Raymond would likely be preying on John’s vulnerability or his fame to get monetary gain from supposedly “contacting” Anna in the “other world.” When John’s character takes the tapes home and buys the necessary electronic equipment to communicate with his beloved Anna, my heart went out to all the lost people in this world who truly believe and desperately contact mediums and psychics.

It is not the spirits of those we knew and loved who speak to us from seance tables and Ouija boards. These are demonic spirits who are of Satan and are the principalities of the air. Jesus knows them and warns us not to have anything to do with them (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is as a hungry lion, stalking those who’s faith is poor if nonexistent in God and will snatch them away at any opportunity. The demonic world is at war all around us with Michael and the angels. We must, therefore, be learned in Scripture and always put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) . Be a soldier in the army of The Lord for those evil angels led by Satan are real and because they know scripture and their final end, they are obsessed with taking as many souls down to the pit with them as they can.

What does the Bible say about the occult? Answer

“White Noise,” and it’s message, although an interesting subject, it is not one to be taken lightly. When I say I do not believe in the paranormal, it does not mean I do not take death and the spirit world lightly. Even King Saul knew that to contact a medium was serious business, it eventually not only cost him this Earthly life, but his eternal life as well.

We do have to face death, but we don’t have to fear death. In order to be freed from the fear of death, we should head what Scripture says in Hebrews 2:15 that Jesus came to,

“Deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” (Hebrews 2:15)

Death is always a troubling experience. Death is never easy. It is never expected. And when someone has died it is never easy to accept.

We hear Jesus encouraging his disciples concerning His own death. He told them and also us “DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED.” Jesus had just told them of his own approaching death. For 3 years he had been their close friend—they had forsaken everything to follow him—their families, their occupation—their friends. And now Jesus was telling them he was going to die and go away but that they should not be troubled. (John 14:1-6):

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to The Father, but by Me.”

The grief in loss of someone loved in this Earthly life is sometimes excruciatingly hard to bear. That is why God has sent The Comforter to gently console our grief and give us the Hope of Eternal life in Heaven. When The Comforter is near, there is no sorrow that cannot be eased and no heartache that cannot be repaired by hope. What a shame that the character of John in “White Noise” was not given this wonderful knowledge! Then perhaps he wouldn’t have had the need to pursue the whiles of Satan to his bitter end.

If anything “White Noise” should inspire us as Christians to tell every hurting non-believer we meet of what truly is “The After Life” for all who accept Jesus as their personal Savior! Thank God this day that you know His Son and you know His final resting place, beside Him in Heaven is where you’ll eternally be!

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See our review page on the sequel to this movie: White Noise: The Light

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Neutral—If you’re in the mood for a mediocre psychological/occultic thriller, this might be a good time-waster. The characters were likeable and well-acted, and I found myself feeling very deeply for their tragedies throughout. There was a refreshing lack of rampant sexuality, not as many swear words as there could’ve been, and even a little bit of family values like the reviewer touched upon. There were a few big plot holes and inconsistencies that ruined the creepiness factor, though—disembodied spirits can barely relay a 2-word phrase to the living via the static on your TV set, yet the veil to the “other side” is apparently so thin they have no problem just showing up whenever it’s convenient to the plot? That was pretty cheap.

I guess if anything positive could be garnered from this movie, it would be that it accurately portrays the fear and hopelessness of an afterlife without Christ. The spirits of people who die, good OR bad, just wander about aimlessly in a meaningless, chaotic, ethereal-limbo. No vindication for the righteous, no punishment for the guilty. In fact, this movie asserts that evil spirits (who the EVP expert simply calls “bad people,” not demons or anything of that nature) upon death suffer a fate no different than any average, law-abiding citizen. Not only that, but these “bad people” go right on ahead spending the hereafter terrorizing whomever they please, with nary a consequence. No heaven, no hell, no purgatory, no being reincarnated as an amoeba. NOTHING! It’s an existence without true morality, without the perfect justice, reason, and hope of a personal God who wants His creations to reign with Him in paradise forever.

It should also be noted that the Bible does not validate the existence of ghosts, and most certainly not the practices of necromancy or contacting spirits. Jesus spoke of death as a “sleep” and our resurrection will be at His second coming. No disembodied spirit-beings wander this Earth. They are the illusions and manipulations of the Deceiver, who wants nothing more than for God’s people to fall away into false (and obviously dangerous!) spiritual practices, so that they might reject His Word. On the official EVP Web site, it’s interesting to note what a large percentage of their “real” voice samples actually do mimic the hate-filled voices of the ghostly killers in this film (the end credits even state that 1 in 12 EVP messages are “overtly threatening”). EVP is a dangerous form of spiritism masquerading as scientific phenomenon, and anyone without a solid background in Biblical teachings regarding the truth about death and channeling spirits ought to sit this one out.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive/4
—Kat Walker, age 19
Positive—If you are a Christian who enjoys getting scared every now and then, this is definitely a movie for you to watch. As Christians, we know the truth. We know that when we die we will either go to heaven or the other place. For me, this was just a way to ride a roller coaster when there wasn’t one around. It was interesting, frightening, and thrilling. I had a good time hiding in my husbands chest, and peeking through my eyelashes every now and then. Just keep in mind, He does not give us a spirit of fear.
My Ratings: Average/4½
—Cynthia, age 31
Neutral—Being a christian and viewing such a movie, I realize that this is based on someone’s imagination not the truth. However, knowing the truth this movie was entertaining and scary. I don’t believe in Ghosts but I definitely believe in demons and you need to know the difference and not get caught up in the hype.
My Ratings: Better than Average/3
—Norm Rebadow, age 42
Positive—[Non-Christian] I saw this movie and found this movie to be very interesting (it is based on facts) and think that this is a movie that is okay and not as offensive as one may think. Don’t take you children and use common sense when it comes to going to movies. The ratings are there to help you.
My Ratings: Good/5
—Stephanie, age 20
Negative—A waste of money! A very boring movie that was totally stupid!
My Ratings: Very Offensive/1
—Glenda, age 33
Positive—My comments on “White Noise” is this, for those who have seen it and have judged it unfairly. I think you have failed to see the point in all of this, or should I say lesson. I used to believe in ghosts… those out there who still do, should see this movie. I recommend it! Or even for some Christians who believe in ghosts or the after life! This movie will scare the cr*p out of you… I knew there was no such thing as ghosts, and I would never again dabble in it again! To see what demons can do, break your bones, that scared me to no end!! I would not say this movie is offensive in any way shape or form. I think it’s just a good lesson! Stay in the light; keep out of the darkness. Look to GOD, not the dead! The “dead” are nothing but demons!
My Ratings: 5
—Renee, age 31

Comments from young people
Positive—I went to the movie yesterday with some friends. It wasn’t scary, per say, but more disturbing. Its one of those movies that you watch and don’t think about it again until your lying in bed trying to fall asleep. I thought it was pretty exciting with not a dull moment. I was disappointed though about the man at the funeral yelling the f-word at Johnathon (Michael Keaton) after he risked his life saving his child! I though the movie was entertaining, but I probably would wait until it goes into a cheap seats theatre before you go see it. I also wouldn’t take anyone under 14 to see it seeing as it has many frightening images.
My Ratings: Better than Average/4
—Britttany Kleinschmidt, age 15
Movie Critics
…Even though logic takes a holiday in “White Noise,” [it] send[s] more than a few chills down the spine… A sometimes haunting, sometimes mawkish paranormal thriller about contact between the living and the dead…
—Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter
…Hollywood and Michael Keaton try to make a decent thriller out of ghosts in the machine but come up with lousy reception and static…
—Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
…moderately compelling, thanks to Keaton’s accessible performance…
—Philip Wuntch, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
…a film worthy neither of Mr. Keaton’s talents nor even a desperate horror fan’s attention…
—Manohla Dargis, New York Times
…Watching “White Noise” is about as much fun as watching static on TV…
—Tom Long, Detroit News
…Those inclined to laugh at pseudo-science will get a kick out of Rivers’ visit to a psychic…
—Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
…No scares, just boredom…
—Christy Lemire, Associated Press