Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Ouija boards are so last-century—to contact the dead these days, you need an assload of equipment from your local Best Buy. Or so says White Noise, the debut thriller by BBC director Geoffrey Sax, which turns on the modern ghost hunter’s favorite “evidence”: electronic-voice phenomena. Talkative spirits now require multiple TVs, VCRs, and computers. One of each, apparently, just won’t do—which is handy for White Noise’s hero, Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton), a successful architect with plenty of disposable income who’s told by some weird dude that his recently deceased wife, Anna (Chandra West), is trying to communicate from beyond via the static in radios and televisions. Initially skeptical, Jonathan is soon—and a little too easily—won over when he hears a tape of Anna’s voice, after which he goes out and gets himself, basically, a new home-theater system. Just like the technically savvy little ghost girl responsible for the haunted videotape in The Ring, Anna ends up not only whispering, “Jonathan, my love!” over the airwaves, but also broadcasting some rather disturbing visions, which—without giving too much away—prompt Jonathan to become, well, Batman. With a script by no-name Niall Johnson and a star who is, sadly, now as outdated as a séance, White Noise is, unsurprisingly, yet another disappointment in the recent string of horror busts. Though Sax shows admirable restraint in the cheap-scare department, his wan attempts at more understated, Sixth Sense spookiness make much of the movie a big bore. (And really, the ghostie-zipping-past-the-door thing can be done only so often.) There are a couple of cool shots of a trio of bad-guy wraiths who try to strong-arm Jonathan into tuning his radio back to smooth jazz, and it is rather chilling to see Anna’s name pop up occasionally on Jonathan’s caller ID. But when the story goes superhero, any sense of eeriness vanishes as completely as Keaton’s career. —Tricia Olszewski