White Noise (film)

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White Noise
White Noise movie.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed byGeoffrey Sax
Produced byPaul Brooks
Written byNiall Johnson
StarringMichael Keaton
Deborah Kara Unger
Chandra West
Ian McNeice
Music byClaude Foisy
CinematographyChris Seager
Edited byNick Arthurs
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • January 7, 2005 (2005-01-07)
Running time
101 minutes
United Kingdom
United States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$91.2 million[2]

White Noise is a 2005 supernatural horror thriller film directed by Geoffrey Sax and starring Michael Keaton. The title refers to electronic voice phenomena (EVP), where voices, which some believe to be from the "other side", can be heard on audio recordings.

The film did very well at the box office despite generally poor reviews from both critics and audiences. This success led Universal and other studios to realize that there was an untapped audience for horror films released in January, and began releasing higher-quality horror films during that period, usually dismissed as the winter dump months of the film calendar.


Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) is a successful architect and lives a peaceful life with his wife Anna (Chandra West) until her unexpected death. Eventually, he is contacted by Raymond Price (Ian McNeice), whose son has also died. He says he has recorded messages from Anna through electronic voice phenomena (EVP). While Jonathan is initially dismissive and angered, he later learns about his wife's tragic drowning. Desperate, he begins to believe that the recorded voice is indeed that of his wife, and becomes obsessed with trying to contact her himself. He is warned by a psychic, Mirabelle Keegan (Keegan Connor Tracy), that she takes measures to avoid hostile entities, but EVP is an indiscriminate process that offers no such safeguards. A woman named Sarah Tate (Deborah Kara Unger), who also came to Raymond for his EVP work because she lost her fiancé, befriends Jonathan.

Raymond is found dead. Jonathan begins to be followed by three demons attracted by his obsession with EVP, and finds that some of the messages he receives are from people who are not yet dead, but may soon be. Jonathan hears cries from a woman whom he finds in a car with a child. He is able to save the child, but not the woman. At that woman's funeral, which Jonathan and Sarah both attend, Jonathan approaches the husband and tells him about what happened. The latter thanks Jonathan for saving his son but then demands to be left alone. Afterwards, Jonathan sees images of another person, a missing woman named Mary Freeman, while working with his EVP devices. Sarah is later seriously injured by a fall from a balcony while possessed by the demons, that incident which was foreshadowed by Sarah's image being among those on the EVP devices.

Jonathan locates the site of his wife's death by following signs on recordings and he also finds his wife's abandoned car. Jonathan finds a set of computers and electronic equipment on site. A construction worker (Mitchell Kosterman) from his company, who has been doing his own EVP work, is holding Mary captive. He has been under the control of the demons to kill all these people, including Anna. The three demons torture Jonathan by breaking his arms and legs and cause him to fall to his death, but a SWAT team along with Detective Smits (Mike Dopud) arrives and are able to save Mary by shooting the construction worker dead. After his funeral, Jonathan's voice can be heard on the radio through static interference saying "I'm sorry" to his son. The child recognizes the voice and smiles. Sarah, at the graveside in a wheelchair, is menaced by odd noises. Right before the credits, the camera flashes to a TV where Jonathan and his wife are visible.



A sequel titled White Noise: The Light was released in January 2007.


As of December 2018, White Noise was generally negative, with a 7% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with the site's consensus being "While there are some built-in scares, the movie is muddled and unsatisfying".


White Noise's surprising box-office success for a movie released on the first weekend after New Year's Day, the start of the winter dump months and usually one of the worst weekends for new releases, led studios to reassess their releasing strategies for horror films. "The first weekend in January used to be a non-starter for people; we had this little horror movie White Noise that did business, and that has become a place where movies [like] that tend to operate." Universal chairman Adam Fogelson told critic Anne Thompson during a 2013 indieWIRE panel discussion.[3]

If a horror film as poorly received as White Noise could nevertheless make a significant amount of money in January, studios realized, a quality film in that genre could do even better. The following year, an elaborate viral marketing campaign gave Paramount's found footage horror film Cloverfield a $40 million opening weekend, which remained the record for January until Ride Along in 2014. In 2012 Paramount beat White Noise's first-weekend success with The Devil Inside, which took in $35 million despite a strongly negative reaction from critics and audiences. "Ever since White Noise was a hit in 2005, that's what started it. If you look back at every first weekend, besides expanding titles, the only new release is usually one crappy horror movie," C. Robert Cargill of Ain't It Cool News told Hollywood.com in 2013.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "White Noise (2005) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  2. ^ "White Noise (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  3. ^ Thompson, Anne (April 26, 2013). "CinemaCon Heavyweight Panel Debates Windows, Social Media, State of Industry". indieWIRE. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  4. ^ Salisbury, Brian (February 23, 2013). "Why Oscar Season is Hollywood's Bad Movie Dumping Ground". Hollywood.com. Retrieved March 14, 2014.

External links[edit]