While strolling through the local Blockbuster store, I’m always amazed at how many direct-to-video sequels there are to big name movies. Sure, Bring it On was never in the Lord of the Rings echelon of franchises, but it was still a successful movie at the box-office. Yet I still can’t get over the fact that Bring it On now has its own trilogy, just like LOTR.
Most of these low-budget sequels exist solely to cash in on the movie’s title, which is usually unrelated to the original film. The roles are recast or characters done away with, and some dumbed-down script that rehashes the first film is approved. But every once in a while, a cheapie comes along that does more with less, and surpasses the original. See my review for I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer for more proof of this. Usually, it has to do with the talent attached to these films. IAKWYDLS featured the sure-handed direction of up-and-comer Sylvain White, who is slated to helm the big-budget Castlevania movie, and White Noise 2: The Light was directed by Patrick Lussier of the surprisingly good Dracula 2000 and an accomplished editor.
On that note, I never saw White Noise, but then I don’t think I needed to see the original to understand the goings-on in White Noise 2: The Light. For one, the original dealt with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), while the sequel deals primarily with a new supernatural acronym, in this case NDEs (Near Death Experience) and a new cast of characters.
After his wife and child are gunned down in a diner by a madman, Abe Dale (Nathan Fillion) overdoses on meds and almost dies. Before he’s revived, he experiences the standard tunnel and white light that usually accompanies an NDE. Upon his return to the living, Abe discovers that he has brought back something from the other side — the ability to know when people are about to die.
This is where White Noise 2: The Light succeeds. Fillion does a good job showing us the transformation from a grieving man to someone who discovers that he can save lives. And by saving lives, he’s able to come to terms with the death of his wife and son. But then things take a turn for the worse, and the movie is kicked into a gear that was higher than I expected.
I won’t go into details about the plot. There aren’t many twists or turns to spoil, but I think I enjoyed White Noise 2: The Light so much because I knew nothing about it going in. And if you don’t know a lot about this film too, don’t do any research. Not knowing much about it may heighten your viewing experience a bit. After all, ignorance is bliss.
At its core, White Noise 2: The Light is still a generic horror movie, right down to its suburban Vancouver setting, but it’s still enjoyable. While the ending overdoes it a bit, the story is well thought out and it surprised me with its complexity. Sure it’s a bit hokey at times, but I was game.
I also expect that White Noise 2: The Light will have more success than other direct-to-video sequels because of it’s inspired casting, which features actors from two of the most popular sci-fi TV shows in Nathan Fillion (Firefly) and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). And while I have not seen the original White Noise, I would venture a guess to say that White Noise 2: The Light is an improvement. So give it a looksee if you were a fan of the original or either of the film’s main stars. You won’t be disappointed.
White Noise 2: The Light is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are drab and the picture bears its low-budget roots, coming off as slightly blurry. Nothing sharp here. It’s not that bad, and doesn’t ruin the viewing experience, but I could just tell that it was a low-budget movie when it first started.
The audio track for White Noise 2: The Light is as surprising as the quality of the movie. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this Dolby Digital 5.1 track actually had some legs. During Abe’s near death experience, the subwoofer kicked in and rattled the sconces on my wall. And when the traditional horror movie “jump scares” occurred, I actually jumped from the aggressive use of the surround speakers. Score another point for White Noise 2: The Light! We’ve got a trend going on here!
I usually don’t expect much by way of Special Features when it comes to low-budget, direct-to-video films, maybe just a trailer for the film and some other crappy movies the studio is pushing. Not here. White Noise 2: The Light actually boasts some interesting Special Features.
First up are Deleted Scenes that were cut for a reason as they slowed down the pace of the film, but they’re worth a look for some character exposition.
Second is Exploring a Near Death Experience which features interviews with six people who each had a NDE as well as a doctor who is researching the subject. While I was asking myself if these people were legit or paid-actors like the ones on Sightings, it was still interesting to hear people giving their accounts of an NDE.
The next feature is The Making of White Noise 2 where the cast talks about the first film and their beliefs in NDE’s. We then learn about the gruesome make-up used for a cast member, and the religious symbols used in the film’s plot. Fanboys will no doubt be pleased that Nathan Fillion and Katee Sackhoff also weigh in on who would win in a fight between their characters on Firefly and Battlestar Galactica.
Rounding out the featurettes is Journey into Madness, a fun tour through the supposedly haunted asylum where much of the shooting for the film took place. This feature allows Fillion to show of his comedic side, and one can see why so many geeks love the guy.
Finally, a Trailer for the film is also included.
White Noise 2: The Light is a surprising experience. And not just because there are some decent scares. This is actually a film worth watching. I kept telling myself I would turn the film off in a few minutes to pick it up later, but then something happened on-screen and I was glued to my seat. Not only that, but the A/V specs are respectable, especially the soundtrack, and the Special Features are on topic and pretty fascinating too. I can’t believe I am going to say this, but I highly recommend White Noise 2: The Light!
DVD Talk – The good news is that “White Noise 2” has very little in common with the dreadful 2005 original that starred a slightly perplexed Michael Keaton.
DVD Town – To see Fillion and Sackhoff is a reason to pick up this video release, but beyond that, “White Noise 2” is avoidable.