White Noise has made quite a stir when it was originally released a few years back. It's easy to see why there was a commotion about this movie because it explored a very disturbing concept that people really can't quite wrap their minds around.
Make no mistake about it, there is a tremendous amount of horror and suspense related to the concept of the separation between living people and dead ones.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Wouldn't it be easy to see if somebody's dead or alive? What's the big deal?"
Well, believe it or not, there is no scientific bulletproof definition of life. I know that's crazy. I know that probably sounds like something that came out of left field. It's probably very shocking to you. Believe me, I understand where you're coming from.
You have every right in the world to be shocked. Can you imagine, no definition for life? It would be great if scientists can get their act together and determine what life is and isn't. But unfortunately, they can't.
Now, with that said, don't think that this is the reason why we haven't found intelligent life in the universe. Even the most basic definition of life is not met by our galactic probes. Regardless of how many vessels and detection units we send out to the rest of the universe, we still haven't come back with any solid proof that there is life out there.
And this has nothing to do with scientific definitions of life. Even if we were to define life in the broadest and most liberal way possible, we still come up with a big, fat goose egg. That's right. Zero. This may change, but that's where we are.
But I need to raise this issue with you because there are a lot of questions surrounding what life is, what it isn't, what comes close to it, and what it seems like. And since there is such a tremendous amount of uncertainty there, you can well imagine that this is fertile ground for an amazing suspense-filled movie.
Because people, since time immemorial, have been afraid of death. Seriously. People have been afraid of dying.
Now, keep in mind that there are two sides to this. On the one hand, people are afraid of dying because they feel that it's going to hurt. Believe me, if you were struck with stage 4 cancer of the pancreas, the liver, or the bone, heavens forbid, you would know full well what it's like to suffer before you die. We're talking about bone-grinding pain.
For example, if you are suffering from cancer of the kidneys, it's as if somebody took a really rusty fork and scraped the sensitive insides of your kidneys, all day, every day. And regardless of the drugs you've taken, regardless of the pain medication you're on, nothing would help because the pain resonates or sinks down to the level of your bones.
as Jonathan Rivers
Deborah Kara Unger
as Sarah Tate
as Anna Rivers
as Mike Rivers
I can't even begin to imagine how excruciating that is. The closest I can come up with is when I developed kidney stones. I don't know about you, man, but kidney stones hurt like hell. It's as if somebody was scraping and pulling on the sensitive and very touchy and soft tissue of the insides of your kidneys as it pulls the stone through your urinary tract.
I was pissing blood, I felt like hell, and things only changed once I started taking medication that the doctor gave me. And he also gave me pain medication. But Stage 4 Kidney cancer blows this away.
In fact, a lot of people who suffer from a tremendous amount of pain as they slowly die report that most medications don't work. For you to be relieved of such pain, you really have to step up and get prescribed heavy duty pain medication like oxycontin or, even worse, fentanyl. This is like high grade anesthetics.
I raise this issue because a lot of people often equate death with pain. And I suspect that a lot of this has more to do with mental pain. Really. Which brings me to the other side of the equation.
Because mental pain is really all about feeling left behind. It involves worrying or agonizing over things that you are about to lose.
Believe me, there's a lot to lose when you're about to die. Seriously. When you know you're going to die because your doctor is giving you only three weeks to live, you start thinking about your family members.
For example, if you're a parent, you start thinking of the days you will miss being around your children. How many birthdays you won't be around for. How many anniversaries. If your child is single, you would agonize over not getting to see who your child is going to marry.
You definitely are going to agonize and feel really crappy about the fact that you may not see your grandkids. You're not going to feel them in your arms in the hospital. You're not going to blow candles with them for their birthdays. You're not going to see them play around with the clowns during the presentations for their birthdays. You don't see any of that.
This sense of being left behind while at the same time things play out in front of your eyes is very, very painful on a very deep psychological level. And this is why loss related to death almost always involves some sort of pain.
In many cases, the psychological pain is worse because physical pain, as I've mentioned earlier with my experience with kidney stones, comes and goes. While it's true that when you're in the middle of kidney stone pain you want to kill yourself, it does pass.
It's kind of like being caught in a rainstorm. When you look up at the clouds and there's a very big, dark cloud dumping tons of rain on you, it may be miserable. Believe me, it's agony. But you also know that since the clouds are being pushed by a lot of wind, it's only a matter of time until that nasty cloud, with all that rain and all that misery, will blow away.
The same applies to pain. Physical pain blows away. But you know what doesn't blow away? Psychological pain.
It is this conflict and tension between being alive and being dead that makes the White Noise movie so compelling. It creates all sorts of opportunities for suspense. It also plays with your mind on so many levels.
The reason why horror movies work is because they resonate with our fears. Our fear, ultimately, is all about loss. We don't want to get left behind, we don't want to lose the stuff that we enjoy, we don't want to feel that we can no longer experience certain things.
So we hang on. And the more we hang on, the greater the sense of loss is when we have to let go. In other words, it's all about tension.
The White Noise movie has made quite a name for itself and has developed quite a bit of a cult following because it was able to navigate, play up, exaggerate, embellish and communicate this tension with people who watch it.
It doesn't matter what their language is, it doesn't matter where they come from, it doesn't matter what religion they have, most people can relate to loss. And that's why White Noise, this amazing psychological thriller that separates the dead and the alive, and the ones who have something and the ones who have lost something or are on the verge of losing something, resonates. This is the movie that this website celebrates.
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