Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: October 8, 2013) - The home-invasion subgenre gets a fresh twist in "Static," a horror-thriller about a troubled young couple staying in the country, author Jonathan Dade (Milo Ventimiglia) and wife Addie (Sarah Shahi), who are roused from sleep by a pounding on their front door. When they go to answer it, they are confronted by Rachel (Sara Paxton), a girl who says she lives nearby and claims she's being chased by a group of masked men. Jonathan welcomes Rachel into their home, but Addie senses something very suspicious about this stranger whom they've never set eyes on before. Pretty soon, all three of them will be accosted by these threatening figures as they move ever closer to breaking into the house. What they want will be revealed all in due time, and when this only semi-surprising revelation comes it kind of sucks the air out of the story. One of those movies where none of the pieces quite fit when the viewer thinks back on them, "Static" takes a crafty idea, but debuting director-cowriter Todd Levin doesn't always play fair with the audience. Notably more effective, then, is the underlying emotional conflict going on between Jonathan and Addie, the two of them still struggling to come to terms with their grief over the recent drowning death of their son. These interpersonal grace notes ring resoundingly truemore so than the gimmicky places the rest of the narrative ultimately journeys.
"Static" is a mixed bag in its 1080p video transfer, though some of its trouble spots are likely due to the source rather than a flawed encode. The film was shot digitally, and there is a faded, antiseptic quality to its aesthetic that doesn't often attract in the right way. With virtually no grain in sight and a color palette that has been muted in post-production, the movie isn't exactly high-definition eye candy. Banding also rears its unfortunate head in spots, the most egregious examples being on the walls behind Jonathan and Addie whenever they descend their staircase under dim lighting. There is some good news, however. Considering the filmmakers' intentionsthis was never meant to be a bold, demo-ready dazzlerthe picture offers quite a bit of impressive detail in clothing and facial features and is totally free of errant specks and debris on the image. For what it is, the film looks fairly true to source and certainly outclasses the standard-def DVD, which is also included in the release. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio gets the job done, the intense score and door bangings filling the sound field, if not quite proving as immersive as they could. Dialogue is always clear.
Special Note: The "Static" Blu-ray also comes with a relatively unassuming 3D version, its most effective tri-dimensional moment arriving, oddly enough, during the end credits.
Audio Commentary with writer-producer Gabriel Cowan, producer Andrew Orci and writer-editor John Suits
"Static" doesn't waste a moment of its compact 83-minute running time (including credits), but a firmer hand in the script (credited to Levin, Cowan and Suits) might have done wonders for a thriller that doesn't add up in the long run. Intense and intriguing at times, but never exactly scary, the film involves as it plays out, then falls apart in a third act that tries to be too clever for its own good. "Static" will work better for those who don't think about it too much after the fact. For them, this Blu-ray/3D/DVD combo release is a nice package with an audio commentary rounding things out. A rental is in order for genre fans. For everyone else, feel free to keep walking.