White Noise / White Noise 2 (2005 / 2006) Mill Creek Double Feature Blu-ray Review
The first White Noise is a solid, creepy supernatural thriller, while the second one is a disappointment. It’s nice to have both titles on one disc, with plenty of special features, though, and Mill Creek did a good job with this affordable release.
White Noise (2005) Plot:
A grieving husband is drawn into a shadowy subculture of chasing down electronic voice phenomena that has possible supernatural ties to reconnecting with the deceased.
Successful architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) is blindsided when his wife, a bestselling author, is killed in what appears to be an accident on the side of the road while changing her tire. While co-raising his young son with his ex-wife, Rivers begins getting strange phone calls from his deceased wife from her phone number, and he starts getting spooky, mostly indecipherable messages from her in the middle of the night on the answering machine. Fate has him bumping into an odd man named Price (played by Ian McNeice) who swears up and down that he’s been getting clear messages from Rivers’ dead wife from “the other side,” and while that would put most people off, Rivers is drawn to the possibilities. Price has collected years’ worth of “EVP” (Electronic Voice Phenomena) that he’s recorded from the white noise in between channels on television and from the radio, using high tech sound and recording equipment to capture all sorts of weird, ghostly images and messages from what he believes are people from beyond the grave. Rivers and another woman named Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), whom Price had helped with her grieving process after losing her husband, team up when Price is found dead in his house, and the two of them soon discover that Rivers has a strong pull with the EVP messages, getting very clear and distinct messages from voices from beyond, except Rivers realizes that the messages are from people who aren’t dead yet, but soon will be. When he saves the life of a baby from certain death as a result of deciphering one of the messages that come through to him, he becomes obsessed with saving a local woman who was kidnapped by a possible serial killer, and once he begins receiving messages from this woman, he determines that she’s still alive, but will be dead soon if he doesn’t find and save her …
A well conceived supernatural thriller that is outlandish and nutty as it sounds, but still quite engrossing due to its convictions and follow-through, White Noise is similar to a lot of J-Horror films like Pulse and Ringu, but with an original premise. Keaton is great in a role he was suited for at a time in his career when he’d begun making films that barely got released or premiered on home video, and the film’s director Geoffrey Sax did a very convincing job of portraying a creepy sub-world supernatural thriller with creepy vibes and pretty good effects too. The movie works, and it still hold sup really well, even almost 20 years later.
White Noise 2 (2006) Plot:
After witnessing the seemingly random murder of his wife and son, a man tries committing suicide, but he doesn’t die, which gives him an ability to detect when other people will die.
While out on a family dinner date, Abe Dale (Nathan Fillion) is left reeling when a stranger (played by Craig Fairbrass) walks into the restaurant and seemingly chooses Abe’s wife and son at random to murder in shocking cold blood. After gunning the two of them down, the stranger turns the gun on himself and pulls the trigger, forever altering the rest of Abe’s life. Weeks or months pass and Abe struggles to maintain his life and career (I believe he’s a cop; it’s not explicitly clear), and in a moment of despair, he tries killing himself, but fate has him coming back from the brink. His nurse (played by Katee Sackhoff) takes a shine to him, and they become friendly, but right away after becoming conscious again, his perception has altered a great deal. He can see things others can’t – namely “EVP” (Electronic Voice Phenomena) – and as he recovers at home, he becomes restless and starts driving the streets at night, picking up weird signals and sometimes seeing radiant glows on some people who he figures out will die soon. When he starts rescuing people just before they die, he accidentally unleashes a cruel fate for those he rescues, as they become haunted by the fact that they cheated death, and after he accrues quite a number of people he’s saved, he also realizes too late that he is responsible for the carnage his rescued people unleash when they turn to random acts of violence to appease the spirits that haunt them. As Abe scrambles to make sense of the supernatural forces at work in his life and all around him, his very sanity is tested, even as his nurse friend tries to understand what is happening to him.
A direct-to-video sequel to the superior original, White Noise 2 much more closely resembles a Final Destination movie than what I assume we can call a “White Noise” movie, and while that can have its benefits, this effort is much more blunt with its approach to the supernatural and the “EVP” stuff we learned about the first time around. Filmmaker Patrick Lussier opts to go in a direction that is completely opposed to feeling subtle and creepy, with garish effects, more explicitly visualized ghost themes, and an overall streamlined storyline that has no nuance or layered development. It’s all very standardized here, and while I usually like Fillion and Sackhoff (both of whom had just come off of starring in cult sci-fi shows when this was made), neither one of them delivers an especially ingrained performance here. They just stick to the uninteresting script.
Mill Creek’s double feature Blu-ray release of the two White Noise movies looks and sounds solid, and up to the standards you’d hope for, and both films (on a single disc) contain lots of special features that were ported over from the original Universal releases, which include commentaries, documentaries, deleted scenes, and more. It’s an affordable disc, so it can easily be added to any collection.