Static, the new horror / thriller by debut writer / director Todd Levin really, when analysed, doesn’t deserve to be good. However, for an exercise as clichéd as this, its surprising that the result is in fact quite effective.
Jonathan (Milo Ventimiglia) and his wife Addie (Sarah Shahi) are recovering from the recent death of their young son Thomas (Oz Kalvan) in a tragic drowning accident. Holed up in their secluded mansion, the couple have cut themselves off from the world as they try to come to terms with their loss, and Jonathan, a novelist, works on his next book. They just about seem to be holding it together, until late one stormy night a distraught girl called Rachel (Sara Paxton) arrives on their doorstep, claiming that she has been attacked by some masked men on a nearby road. Reluctantly inviting her in, Jonathan and Addie soon realise that Rachel is not all she may seem, and its not long before they find themselves fighting for their lives against a group of adversaries who have only one thing on their minds – death!
This film’s opening when you look back on it is completely unnecessary – an aspect which will likely irritate the viewer throughout its eighty odd minute duration. Though by the climax all the ends are tied together neatly, you are left asking why the makers saw fit to include the initial scene which only plants distracting questions which will niggle constantly at the back of the viewer’s mind – the main one being what it was all about? As said it’s effectively explained by the final credits, however you will likely be left asking whether it was essential to the overall enjoyment of the story.
The main body of the film is also remarkably short on originality, mainly consisting as it does of Jonathan and Addie spending most of their time haring around a dark, rain lashed house, constantly returning to places and situations from which any sane person would run a mile. Along with the fact that they are not a particularly pleasant couple – ok, so they have just lost their son in a tragic accident, but is that really any excuse to be constantly bickering at a time when they should instead be trying to comfort and support each-other – and the film has enough downsides that it should be having you reaching for the DVD player’s off button within the first ten minutes.
Strangely however, these aspects only seem to add to a tension, which is built early on and sustained for the film’s relatively short running time. The house belonging to Jonathan and Addie is simply stunning, a sprawling country mansion set as it is miles from anywhere. Though an ideal setting for the young couple to be frightened to death in, it does beg the question as to how they (even if he is a supposedly successful writer) could afford such a place. You then have Rachel, the enigmatic stranger who appears as if from nowhere in the middle of the night, claiming to have been pursed by masked men that, when they eventually show themselves, are creepy enough to give even those of the strongest nerves sleepless nights.
Combine these qualities with a cast who attack their roles with zest, some wincingly gruesome set-pieces (people really should watch out for broken glass when walking around barefoot) and a genuinely shocking finale, and the result is enough to make you believe that it hasn’t been a total waste of time watching it – something which you can’t say about a lot of modern films which try to pass themselves off under the guise of horror.
Director: Todd Levin
Stars: Milo Ventimiglia, Sarah Shahi, William Mapother
Runtime: 83 mins