One thing I’m terrible at is predicting twists in a movie before they happen. I suck at it.. That being said, I could see the reveal coming a mile away in Static‘s first few minutes. Even the worst (me) armchair detective can tell what’s really going on. Sometimes having the twist ruined doesn’t matter, as long as the story and characters are engaging enough to keep an audience holding on. Static, however, is a weak thriller that takes a fairly interesting premise and throws it away to play a cheap game of cat-and-mouse. By the time the “big twist” drops in our laps in the film’s final moments, I’m not sure anyone is going to care.
Jonathan and Addie Dade are going through some serious marital doldrums. Their young son recently drowned, leaving the couple reeling in his wake. Addie (Sara Shahi) has turned to the bottle while Jonathan (Milo Ventimiglia) immerses himself in his writing. They haven’t really addressed their feelings and have taken a more passive aggressive route to their martial turmoil. Then one night a stranger (Sara Paxton) shows up on their doorstep, saying that someone in a gas mask is chasing her. They reluctantly take her in and soon they become the targets of masked aggressors in a scenario that’s equal parts home invasion thriller and domestic drama.
These elements – a mourning couple and a home invasion – make for a unique take on a thriller with characters that are easy to sympathize for. The way Static plays out is frustrating though. Once the intrusion of the home begins, there are some suspenseful little moments peppered throughout that are genuinely well-crafted. These tense moments are dismally shattered when Johnathan and Addie start bitching at one another. The two elements aren’t handled cohesively. It loses its momentum to the point of exasperation.
The film ends on a terribly down note, which I actually enjoyed. I’ll take a bummer ending over a happy one any day. The problem is, Static makes it a point to not have Jonathan and Addie’s marital state at the end of the film be the focus. This couple, who we’ve just witnessed go through hell, is put aside so that the filmmakers can put all their cards on the table and show the audience how crackerjack their twist is.
And the thing is, I really dug the premise of the twist. If he had made the film more concerned with the reason for the invasion rather than their melodramatic marital troubles, writer-director Todd Levin would have one interesting movie on his hands. Instead it never really focuses on anything and can’t decide if it wants to be a home invasion thriller or a deep meditation on loss. It’s possible to be both, but Static never pulls it off.
A/V: Oh, I forgot to mention that Static is in 3D, for some reason. The wide shots of the landscape that kick off the film look fantastic, with depth clearly established. Once the film’s action kicks into gear, everything is so dark that the 3D is barely noticeable. The 1080p transfer is crisp and detailed – when it’s not nearly pitch black. Like I said, this is a visually dark film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound is terrific, with loads of creepy elements to the design.
Special Features: The audio commentary featuring Todd Levin, producer Gabriel Cowan, and editor John Suits is best left for people who really dug the film. They discuss the usual aspects of filming, with some fun anecdotes thrown in. Overall it’s pretty bland though.