A Netflix Movie Is Being Compared To Ohio's Toxic Train Crash & One Man Was There For Both

The similarities are "uncanny."

A train explosion in the Netflix film White Noise. Right: The aftermath of a train explosion in East Palestine, Ohio.
Senior Editor

A train explosion in the Netflix film White Noise. Right: The aftermath of a train explosion in East Palestine, Ohio.

The Netflix movie White Noise is giving people the chills with how similar it is to the toxic train crash that happened in Ohio this month, and no one is more weirded out by it than the man who was involved in both.

Ben Ratner, 37, says he's still trying to wrap his head around the massive trainwreck and chemical spill that's playing out in his hometown of East Palestine, Ohio, in a disaster that's eerily similar to the one portrayed in White Noise. Not only was the film shot in Ohio, but Ratner played an extra in it.

"Talk about art imitating life," Ratner told People in an interview. "This is such a scary situation. And you can just about drive yourself crazy thinking about how uncanny the similarities are between what's happening now and in that movie."

Ratner has also addressed the eerie similarities to the movie in interviews with WKBN and CNN.

The movie White Noise opens with a train going off the rails and exploding near an Ohio town, where the disaster triggers an "airborne toxic event" and an evacuation of the surrounding area.

In the real world, a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed on the night of February 3 near East Palestine, Ohio, where it was lit on fire in what the EPA describes as a controlled burn operation aiming to avoid any potential explosions, which in turn released toxic chemicals into the air. Ratner happens to live in that town.

The whole coincidence has already triggered plenty of conspiracy theories online, although there is no evidence to suggest that there's any real link between the two.

In fact, White Noise is not even a recent story. The movie was shot in 2021 and is based on a book published by author Don DeLillo in 1985, over three decades before this disaster happened (and over a decade before Netflix was founded). The book plays with the lines between reality, simulation and staged incidents — all topics that fuel many conspiracy theories today.

However, officials have not shared any indication that the East Palestine disaster might be anything other than a huge mistake on one of the busier shipping routes in the U.S.

Data from the American Railroad Association shows that Ohio is one of the busiest states in the country for freight rail traffic. Ohio had the fifth-most freight railroads in the U.S. in 2020, and the third-most rail in terms of miles.

In other words, there's just more freight passing through Ohio than most other states, so the chances for a disaster are higher.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is still on the scene in Ohio to clean up the East Palestine disaster and monitor its effects on the surrounding environment.

Josh Elliott
Senior Editor
Josh Elliott is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Food & Drink and Lifestyle teams with a focus on entertainment interviews. He is based in Toronto, Ontario.