Ghost Hunters EVP Dud

Michael Keaton stars in the moribund White Noise, a witless 2004 supernatural thriller exploring Electronic Voice Phenomenon. Taking a page from reality television program Ghost Hunters, or more likely its late ‘90s British ancestor Ghosthunters in this particular case, Michael Keaton communicates with his dead wife through ghostly apparitions via television static and electronic recordings.

The sluggish horror film is directed by British television veteran Geoffrey Sax, primarily known for working on British crime shows like Endeavor. Deborah Kara Unger is the forgotten female lead in a surprisingly underwritten role, serving more as a plot device than actual character.

Michael Keaton stars in the moribund White Noise, a witless 2004 supernatural thriller exploring Electronic Voice Phenomenon

Architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) loses his wife in a tragic accident. Developing a keen interest in EVPs after a couple of curious events unsettle him, like his wife’s cellphone number ringing his phone long after her death, Rivers falls deep into its uncharted mysteries. Meeting knowledgeable experts like Raymond Price and Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), they guide him into understanding the deadly haunting forces found in EVPs.

Allow me to explain how a poor movie like White Noise gets made in Hollywood. For decades the film industry treated the horror genre as disposable exploitation fare primarily aimed at teenagers. Scream’s outlandish box office success in the 1990s told Hollywood there was a booming adult market for slightly more sophisticated scares. Hollywood started churning out films like The Others starring Nicole Kidman, casting recognizable stars in more staid and mannered fright flicks.

White Noise’s dry and often dull PG-13 screenplay isn’t particularly frightening. What was conceived as an R-rated project gets trimmed down to a safe, bland supernatural vehicle which takes no risks. The atmosphere and general premise recall a far better thriller, Richard Gere’s spooky The Mothman Prophecies. Loosely taking a page from the electrifying Poltergeist, White Noise offers almost an entire hour of an uninspired Michael Keaton staring into a static-filled television. Occasionally something sinister pops up and then we are pulled back into reality.

White Noise practically transforms from a stately British drama about a man losing his wife into ghosts running amok in a muddled final act, replete with a couple of whizzbang set pieces plucked out of nowhere to showcase shoddy supernatural special effects. It appears most of the production’s budget went into paying Michael Keaton.

Casting Michael Keaton as the headliner tells us White Noise’s box office was crafted with older adult audiences in mind, men and women who had grown up with him since the 1980s. By 2004, Keaton’s relevance as an a-list movie star was over in blockbusters. Batman was long behind him and he had settled into taking halfbaked gigs like White Noise for a steady paycheck.

White Noise came and quickly went, leaving little mark on horror fans. It’s just another entry in Michael Keaton’s filmography, one best left forgotten like Desperate Measures.

Video

Mill Creek licenses the 2004 production from Universal. White Noise already made it to Hi-Def in satisfactory HD DVD and Blu-ray releases. There’s good reason to believe they all three share the same basic film transfer. Mildly dated by the 4K standards of today’s best catalog releases, the generally crisp clarity highlights White Noise’s surprisingly pedestrian cinematography. The flick often looks more like a British television production of its day, possibly thanks to Sax’s background.

Budget label Mill Creek dumps both White Noise and its sequel on a single BD-50, encoding both in adequate AVC. The main feature runs 97 minutes, presented in its native 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p video is bright with an excellent contrast and strong black levels. A touch of ringing and possible filtering are possibly baked into the transfer. Fine detail is occasionally on the softer side, though the clean presentation has a certain eye appeal.

The box office dud isn’t going to get a new film transfer anytime soon. Without directly comparing this Mill Creek double feature to Universal’s prior standalone BD, their picture quality are likely comparable.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is often lackluster, a fitting companion to White Noise’s underwhelming frights. A little ambiance in the rears doesn’t provide enough atmosphere for what should be a terrifyingly immersive soundtrack.

There is nice dynamic range and clean dialogue in the low-budget thriller. Technically, the mixing is clear and robust but lacking the discrete activity we’ve come to expect from horror films.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font inside the scope presentation.

Extras

Universal already released White Noise on Blu-ray in a standalone disc before Mill Creek decided they’d reissue the film as a double feature with its completely unrelated sequel White Noise 2 (2006). Both films come packed on a single BD. The disc is listed as Region A. White Noise 2 had apparently made it out on Blu-ray earlier in another double feature from Mill Creek.

I can report Mill Creek has ported all the available special features for both films aside from a couple trailers, including the tepid commentary by Keaton and Sax on the first film. You can safely get rid of those DVDs you’ve been keeping for White Noise. All special features were originally made for their home video debuts back in the 2000s.

Audio commentary with director Geoffrey Sax and actor Michael Keaton – The men recorded this fairly banal commentary over the phone in separate locations. Keaton does admit he wasn’t good in a couple scenes and helped on cinematography in a few scenes. Released at the peak of the DVD market, we don’t get major Hollywood stars giving commentaries anymore.

Deleted Scenes (09:36 in SD) – Five scenes are shown, possibly cut thanks to the studio downgrading its rating from ‘R’ to PG-13.

Hearing Is Believing: Actual EVP Session Featurette (14:33 in SD)

Making Contact: EVP Experts Featurette (08:41 in SD)

Recording the Afterlife at Home Featurette (04:26 in SD)

White Noise 2 (99:03 in HD; 5.1 DTS-HD MA) – Nathan Fillion and Katee Sackhoff star in this basically unconnected sequel. A/V quality is fairly similar to the first film on this disc.

White Noise 2 Deleted Scenes (33:48 in SD)

Exploring Near Death Experience Featurette (14:56 in HD)

The Making of White Noise 2 Featurette (08:36 in HD)

Journey Into Madness Featurette (06:00 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

White Noise
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
1

Movie

A forgettable ghost flick starring Michael Keaton with a dull screenplay built around EVPs

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3 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 37 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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