The original White Noise, while having an abysmal reaction from critics, made a killing at the box office. Made for only $10 million, it grossed over $56 theatrically. Even when a lackluster product, such as the original, seems to be disliked by most, the studios look at the profit rather than public reaction and justify that, “they must not be polling a proper representation of movie goers because we made money on it.” Which is why, sadly, we are being subjected to a rather useless sequel. WHITE NOISE 2: THE LIGHT, while scheduled to be released in early January of 2007, mysteriously vanished from the radar and resurfaced a few weeks later in the UK, with only two weeks of meager promotion before hitting the screen. Announced by Universal as being DTV in the states, is this a case of the studio not knowing what to do with a good film? Or is it just a waste of celluloid?
Abe Dale (Nathan Fillion) is having a normal, run of the mill kind of day when a stranger walks up to his restaurant table and shoots his wife and son, before offing himself. Now, having to cope with the memory of his family, he decides the best way out is to pop as many pills as he possibly can, so he can join them. Abe is saved and happens to be in the care of a doctor who is studying the field of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) and proceeds to educate him about the subject, along with near death experience statistics, which happen to be the most chilling and unsettling thing about the movie. Abe also meets Sherry (Katee Sackhoff) at the hospital, whom he strikes up a relationship with.
He starts to notice strange auras surrounding people and discovers that this means said person is going to die soon. That is, if he doesn’t intervene and save them. Things seem to be looking up for Abe, as he delves deeper into discovering the extent of his gift. That is, until he realizes the truth about saving lives: After 72 hours, anyone who has eluded death will turn into a violent psychopath!
First and foremost, I want to say that I am a fan of Fillion. I enjoyed him in Slither and his short-lived series Firefly and Drive. Same goes for Sackhoff, who I enjoyed in Battlestar Galactica. The performances in the film, however, are not exactly bottom of the barrel material as much as they are uninspired and uninteresting. To me, the performances speak for themselves: they were only done for a paycheck, plain and simple.
The scares in the film are meager at best. Instead of providing suspense and something enthralling, it opts to flash grotesque images of mangled corpses, all the while incorporating that tried and true method of MTV-style editing. We all love that right? The ending especially doesn’t work with the tone of the film, flying wildly off track and into a place where it could never find its way back.
The biggest misconception of this film is that it actually has something to do with the original. While Abe does see ghosts emanating from electronic devices, they don’t harm or communicate with anyone in the film. Its frustrating as to why they even deemed this as a sequel to White Noise, as the story doesn’t revolve around EVP (Seems like an after thought in the film), but rather near death experience. It is almost as if the studio had a script that revolved around seeing ghosts and randomly decided that it would be a good idea to tie it in with one of their preexisting franchises. I’m not faulting the film for being a sequel as much as I am for it purposely tricking fans of the original looking for a film in the same universe, of which it does not provide in the least.
Much like the original, it has an interesting concept that was not properly developed into a good film. Universal made some money with the first one and decided to make a sequel, which, I have to say, is smart business. However, while people wandered into the theatre naively the first time, I don’t think they would’ve done it a second time. If they would’ve cut out the EVP aspect of the film and fixed the script up a little (Abe being released from a hospital after trying to commit suicide didn’t exactly fall into the realm of believability), this could have been a moderately enjoyable film.
Universal was smart in cutting their losses and releasing this DTV in the states and not springing for a theatrical release. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the smartest decision involved with this film.