Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sequels That Don't Suck: White Noise 2: The Light (2007)

I know I've seen White Noise before, I know I have. Do I remember it? Not really. I'm pretty sure I didn't like it, though, much like most other reviewers that I see now. I'm a little in love with Nathan Fillion from Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (okay, I'm a LOT in love with him), which is the only reason I watched White Noise 2: The Light.

And it was pretty darn good!

Nathan Fillion is Abraham Dale whose wife and young son were shot and killed in cold blood while at a diner one day. After their deaths, Abe tries committing suicide and is revived at the hospital, but not before coming that close to death - experiencing the fabled "white light." As a result of his near-death experience, Abe develops the ability to see how soon people will die and that he can help stop it. He soon realizes that his power and the actions he takes has serious consequences.

Katee Sackhoff and her ginormous smile play Sherry, a nurse whom Abe becomes close to. She is a genuinely kind and sweet person and has also lost somebody she loved. Abe saves her one night from being attacked in a parking garage and thinks she is simply another notch on his mirror of the people he has "saved." When the other people he's saved become murderously violent, he starts to wonder if he should have helped any of them, including Sherry, and whether he might have to kill them himself.

In the scene where Abe has his near-death experience, the effects come dangerously close to being incredibly hokey and stupid. Abe is sort of floating through a lightning-fill wormhole in space toward the angelic visions of his wife and son, but the shocks of the defibrillator paddles suck him back to his body. I was skeptical at first while watching this scene, but it's not all that bad. Perhaps a little over-the-top and too on the nose of what a near-death experience is supposed to be like, with some low-grade special effects.

The other effects of the "ghosts" Abe sees are well done, and pretty much what you would expect them to look like, but there's nothing all that special going on. Ghostly figures popping up in Abe's house, all jumpy and scary looking. There are no truly frightening moments despite the supernatural element. I love ghosts and they usually creep me the eff out - not so much here.

Aside from not having anybody from the first film in this sequel, White Noise 2 is a more logical extension from the original than most other sequels out there. It keeps the same basic concept but takes it somewhere new and interesting. In White Noise, they could only hear the EVP through a TV with a detuned receiver (right? Like I said, I don't remember the movie all that well). Abe's near-death experience (NDE) supposedly makes him become a living detuned receiver, where he gets visions and hears noises from the beyond through various electrical equipment.

They add a semi-religious element to the new story with the whole concept of "The Third Day." The people that Abe saves end up going nutso the third day after their brush with death - three days after death Jesus rose from the grave, and this is the inversion of that; as they say in the film, what the Devil does on the third day. I guess that means he goes into a weird trance and kills a bunch of people around him. Like most things in this movie, I'm letting weird stuff like that slide.

The movie is pretty formulaic and predictable, but I think the great actors helped in making this a much more enjoyable experience than it probably should be. Nathan Fillion has played the bad guy and the rebel with a heart of gold. Here he plays the everyman, faced with a situation he doesn't quite understand but feels compelled to do the right thing anyway. Basically he's a rip-off of Johnny Smith from The Dead Zone. But whatever. I love Nathan. Hunky Craig Fairbrass is Henry Craine, the man who killed Abe's wife and son. Turns out though that he has the same power that Abe does and the murder of Abe's family had something to do with it. Fairbrass has a wonderful chiseled face and ominous presence, perfect at playing a man we're supposed to think of initially as being evil, but in the end really isn't. Katee Sackhoff as Nurse Sherry and Abe's supposed new love interest is wonderfully charming and loving. Just look at her picture. Isn't she the cutest thing you ever did see?

At one point in the film, Abe's friend refers to his new "power" as some sort of "superhero, Captain Tightpants shit." This was a wonderful little nod to Fillion's role as Captain Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly and an episode where Kaylee says to him (as they are dressed very uncomfortably in formal clothes) "Yes sir, Captain Tightpants." You had to be there. Firefly was an incredible show that ended WAY too soon. It's not often that there's a little something dropped into a movie for the fans of another show that the main actor is in, and I laughed my butt off at this.

White Noise 2 is not the greatest movie or sequel ever, but it was certainly successful in what it intended to do and the acting and pacing of the story have made it one of my favorite little movies to pick up and watch every once in a while. The ending is fairly hokey and melodramatic but it works well for the story that has been presented before it.

Maybe the title of this post should be more like Sequels That Don't Suck, Or At Least Don't Suck As Much As The Original.


  1. I need to check this out now. Nathan is WHITE HOT!

  2. you totally nailed it when you say that it's "a more logical extension from the original than most other sequels".

  3. I suppose it's not the worst sequel out there...

    ...then again, I don't have 'a thing' for Fillion, so I don't have that aspect swaying me at all either. :-)

    The story was pulled from 'The Dead Zone,' the effects weren't that good and the moral was confusing. I just didn't like it that much.

  4. @Myra - INDEED!

    @Maynard - That was my first instinct from the movie. Most sequels just sort of rehash the original with different characters but this one actually took the story a step further.

    @Tim - Okay, I admit that my liking a particular actor will numb me from a movie I should be more critical of! I do see its flaws, though.