Frankly, Todd Levin's 'Static' has me at a loss for words. Not because the movie is any good, but because it's so mind-numbingly generic and bland that I could be vacuuming the room and still follow the story without missing a beat. I could be cooking some burritos in the kitchen while listening to characters spew their overly-dramatic lines in the other room without ever feeling lost in the conversation. I could be scrubbing the bathtub or toilet and take a break from the Clorox fumes by sneaking a peek over at the screen without thinking I missed a bit of action. Considering we're in the middle of a festive season, I could be decorating my faux Christmas tree while still watching the movie without a problem.
Did I do any of those things? Of course, not. That wouldn't be fair to the purposes of this review, but the point is I could be doing anything else and never feel like the narrative ever required my full attention. In fact, all those chores mentioned above would have made the time seem to go faster because even with a very brisk runtime of 83 minutes, the movie feels excessively long. The plot is complicated by a series of unengaging, corny dialogue, ridiculously overdramatized but uneventful scenes and a disinteresting histrionic backstory. So much so, that I honestly welcomed any distractions to please take away from constantly looking at the time and stop me from fidgeting in my chair, waiting for it finally end.
The major problem with 'Static' is that it's another of the sort that clings for dear life on the success of its so-called unexpected shocking twist — everything depends on how well the filmmakers can pull it off. And sadly, they don't. The story, which took four writers to conceive, is basically born from the M. Night Shyamalan school of thought, or rather a cheap imitation of it. The mention of expecting a surprise ending alongside Shyamalan's name probably already gives away too much, but this movie really does seem like a discount Shyamalan flick with a payoff that wore out its welcome over a decade ago. The lack of originality or a compelling story is bad enough, but the complete absence of simple plot devices and ingenious camerawork that cleverly foreshadows, hints and justifies the final twist is, quite frankly, unforgivable.
Milo Ventimiglia and former NFL cheerleader Sarah Shahi star as a married couple struggling to keep their marriage afloat after the loss of their infant son. Some nice fancy edit cuts — one of the few positives thanks to John Suits and Jon D. Wagner — during a slow dance in the middle of their living room perfectly encapsulates their unspoken ordeal. Everything quickly begins to unravel when a Rachel (Sara Paxton) knocks at their door, asking for help from a gang of masked strangers following her. It's at this point the filmmakers should start dropping hints, but the best we're given is bad telephone reception and weak cellphone service. Only thing maintaining interest is the mysterious motives of the intruders, who walk around the property in hooded jackets and creepy masks.
When it's all said and done, 'Static' is your standard "home-invasion" flick with a shocking twist you'll never see coming. In fact, it's one of the worst story sins imaginable: the red herring. After mulling over it, there is nothing in the narrative that makes sense of or logically leads up to the conclusion. It's just a small collection of irrelevant diversions — baby monitors to build suspense, cars that don't start, cutting a foot on glass — forced to convince audiences of one thing while never showing how it all connects. Levine makes his writing and directorial debut in this production, so a small level of clemency is given. However, the smart thing would have been to give this over to more experienced and capable hands because as it stands, this is pretty awful and grossly amateur.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
New Video Group brings 'Static' to Blu-ray 3D as a three-disc combo pack. The first two are Region Free discs — one a BD50 with both a 3D and 2D version of the movie, and the second containing only the 2D version — while the third is a DVD-5 copy. All three are housed inside a blue case, and at startup, the disc goes straight to animated menu screen with full-motion clips, music and options along the bottom.
'Static' debuts on Blu-ray with a mostly excellent MVC-encoded transfer that's also occasionally a bit straining on the eyes. Shot on Sony's new PMW-F3 digital camera with special 3D rig, the picture comes with outstanding depth and dimensionality, as faces and objects show a roundness that's believable. The camerawork is focused on creating an authentic environment, and characters move as if in a real 3D space with exceptional separation and distance between background and foreground objects. Only, there are times when parallax is to such an extreme that it tends to tire the eyes somewhat. This happens mostly in daylight sequences but worth nothing nonetheless. There are also a couple instances of mild crosstalk, which will likely be more problematic on some displays than on others.
As for the rest of the presentation, the 2.35:1 image is pretty much as one would expect from a digital source. Details are very well-resolved and resolute throughout with clean, distinct lines on furniture, clothing and in the surrounding foliage. Contrast is a bit more on the flat side, but it's possible it might be the result of a stylistic choice. Blacks could be a tad stronger, but for the most part, levels are good and stable with exceptional delineation in the shadows. The color palette is somewhat limited, though that too seems to be deliberate choice since a majority of the plots takes place at night or scenes with poor lighting. Daylight sequences show bold primaries and healthy complexions in the cast.
In the audio department, the movie makes less of an impression with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that has its moments along with a few oddball anomalies. On the positive side, dialogue is intelligible and well-prioritized from beginning to end. Imaging is clean and rather broad, exhibits detailed highs and stable mids. Low frequency effects are palpable and forceful in several scenes, but a couple times, bass sounds muddy and distorted. At one point, starting from the moment when the couple finds the car in the garage, sounds of heavy breathing suddenly occupy right side of the screen when characters are actually on the left or center of the screen. It's a strange and distracting anomaly that only lasts for a short while. Rear activity is mostly silent with maybe one or two instances of effects spreading into the back of the room, so much of the lossless mix fails are creating an apprehensive environment.
In 'Static,' writer and director Todd Levin makes his debut with a mind-numbingly generic and ultimately boring home-invasion thriller that fails to surprise, in spite of its attempt at a shocking twist. Starring Milo Ventimiglia, Sarah Shahi, and Sara Paxton, the movie ultimately lacks a real sense of originality, feeling much too familiar, and a compelling story that draws audiences in. The Blu-ray arrives with a strong, often excellent 3D presentation that can also be a bit of a strain on the eyes while the lossless audio exhibits a few drawbacks in its design. With only minor forgettable supplement offered, this package is only for those enthusiasts hungering for more 3D material. Otherwise, skip it.