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White Noise 2: The Light
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by brianorndorf

"The spirits have made DTV OK for once"
4 stars

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. Since “Noise” was a sleeper hit due to crafty, three-card-monte marketing, the makers of “Noise 2” have their work cut out for them trying to dream up new scares to slap around chiller fans. In a case of divine intervention, this sequel is miles ahead of its forefather, turning a goofy premise of spiritual communication into a playful thriller boosted by a pleasingly game cast.

After witnessing his wife and child gunned down by a mysterious killer, Abe (Nathan Fillion, “Firefly,” “Waitress”) attempts suicide to stay with his family in the afterlife. Taken from the white light by medical intervention, Abe finds he can now sense when people are going to die through glowing visual clues. Empowered by this knowledge, Abe attempts to prevent death scenarios that he stumbles upon, even rescuing his own nurse (Katee Sackhoff, “Battlestar Galactica”) from danger. Trying to piece together the clues to his gift, he finds that the more he prevents death, the angrier supernatural forces become.

There wasn’t much of a story left behind in “White Noise” to build upon, so it’s wise to consider this sequel as only a faint continuation of the E.V.P. (Electronic Voice Phenomena) saga. Outside of the sinister mood and utility of afterlife transmissions, “Noise 2” has different goals for itself, namely to chase a more thrilling tone than a horror one.

Writer Matt Venne and director Patrick “DTV De Palma” Lussier create a cleaner objective for their modest picture, shaping Abe in the early going of the story as a superhero of sorts, employing his premonition for heroic means. It’s a terrific approach to the sequel, getting the energy up and moving fast with stylized suspense set-pieces sharply executed by Lussier, who cleaves away character development to spin the wheels faster.

Frankly I was tickled with the first two acts of the feature, finding Abe’s battle of bewilderment and N.D.E. (“Near Death Experience”) foresight to be a delightful cocktail of entertainment, assisted considerably by Fillion’s easy way with the character’s near-constant expression of amazement. Appreciating Fillion more when he’s at arm’s length from the “Browncoat” gibberish, it’s wonderful to see this talented actor finding more diverse roles.

The thrill-ride atmosphere is muted in the last act, when obligations to poltergeists and boo scares begin to assume full control of the piece. It’s a dispiriting development, but not an unforeseen turn. Lussier handles the supernatural overtures satisfactorily, along with Abe’s feverish research moments that have him thumbing through the bible and the scribbled rantings of a like-minded lunatic for clues to his affliction. However, if you’ve been a student of PG-13 horror for the last five years, you’ll already know where the scares are and how the climax will play out. Again, it’s all sold well by the cast, but by giving into the expected, “Noise 2” goes limp, save for a few Hitchcockian tension builders that mercifully steal frames away from boring old ghosts.

“White Noise 2” is pretty much everything the original film wasn’t: genuinely exciting, well made, competently acted, and contains a payoff that remains in the realm of easy digestion. It’s not some barnstorming, brainless construct like many genre sequels; it’s more astute and gripping, making it one of the more unlikely newborn franchise success stories I’ve come across in recent years.

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originally posted: 01/12/08 10:16:44
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User Comments

4/21/17 danR OK, if you're OK with Final Destination, death must not be cheated, themes. 4 stars
11/01/07 TreeTiger It has some good scares - but this is never going to be a classic... 3 stars
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