Tune it out: “Static”

October 15, 2013


Static is one of those movies where you can tell what the filmmakers like by what they’ve ripped off and reconstituted into their movie. I don’t mean this in a Quentin Tarantino way, in which his love for ‘70s genre and exploitation cinema makes its way into (or directly inspires) his films. No, no, no, no…dear reader, that type of inspiration is far above and beyond that of Static. Like the space-Frank-Lloyd-Wright-house-in-Oblivion high above the creative drive that resulted in this movie. No, Static is more like a couple guys in their parents’ basement, getting wasted on cough medicine and then frantically pointing at the TV and exclaiming, “Dude, we totally gotta put that in our movie!” I’m not saying that’s how this movie was thought up. I’m just saying that particular creative process would not have resulted in a worse movie than Static.

Okay, fair warning: I’m going to spoil the crap out of Static. Particlaly because it’s hard to write about the inanity of this movie without spoiling it, and partuiclaly because I don’t want you to have to see it. We good? Cool.

So, Static is basically your average home-invasion thriller, in which the home being invaded is a fancy-shmancy place owned by Jonathan and Addie Dade (Milo Ventimiglia and Sarah Shahimmm…Sarah Shahi). The Dades have recently lost their son, who drown in their swimming pool. This results in some late-night manly crying by Jonathan, and a terminally depressed Addie. Which is great, because it means that Shahi—an actress so stunningly beautiful she makes your teeth hurt—isn’t allowed to be least bit attractive. Thanks movie. Thank you very much. Please feel free to kick my dog on the way out.

All right, the plot kicks off when someone rings the doorbell late one night. It’s a good scene, since, as I’ve mentioned before, there are few mundane events scarier than being wakened in the middle of the night by a call. In this case, the person at the door is a parka-clad woman named Rachel (Sara Paxton), whose car broke down and is on the run from shadowy figures following her in the tree line.

Now, can we just think for a minute about what a jackpot Jonathan hit? You get someone knocking at your door late at night and it turns out to be Sara Paxton? That’s like something you get from genie, because any other time you have someone knocking at your door in the middle of the night it is either A) a serial killer, or B) several serial killers. There is literally no universe in which C) is a cute blonde girl.

But do the Dades appreciate their incredible good fortune? They do not. Well, Jonathan is kinda like score! (He doesn’t say it, but you can tell he’s thinking it—oh yes he is), but Addie absolutely hates Rachel, hates her presence in their house, hates her request to use their phone, and is convinced that Jonathan is sleeping with her. Have I mentioned Addie is miserable in the country and blames Jonathan for everything? Yeah, she’s a pleasant character.

Well, Rachel hangs around for a while and suddenly, they’re beset by mysterious figures wearing Snake Eyes masks (you know, the one he had in their early comics before that weird visor thingee?) And the rest of the movie is basically Jonathan and Addie running around, trying to avoid being caught by the masked people. Eventually, they club one into unconsciousness, and when they remove the mask it’s (gasp!) Rachel! Because, yeah. Who else is it going to be? There’s no one else in this movie.

A little later they find that Rachel and her fellow Snake Eyes cosplayers have set up a command center in their shed, with maps and photos and cameras covering the whole house and grounds. What possibly could be going on here?

They’re ghosts. Sorry, there’s just no point in dragging this out. Jonathan and Addie are ghosts. Addie was pissed at Jonathan for letting their son drown so she blew him away and then shot herself. Rachel and the cosplayers are ghost hunters. Their Snake Eyes masks allow them to see Jonathan and Addie, but Rachel is a gifted medium and doesn’t need the mask. That’s why she was sent into the house first. Their job is to force Jonathan and Addie to confront their loss and move on to spiritual realm, so the realtor can sell the house. I shit you not. This movie happens because of the housing market.

So, wow, we can tell that director and co-writer Todd Levin was a big fan of The Strangers, huh? And The Others. And while we’re at it, he must have really liked that Doctor Who episode where the kids all had gas mask faces.

Unfortunately, Levin didn’t learn much about suspense or terror from The Strangers, because this is literally the most boring home-invasion story ever. Weird, mask-wearing people breaking into your house and stalking your family should hit you on a primal level, but Levin can’t even muster a sense of dread at the proceedings.

The movie also begs a number of other questions such as:

* Wait, did ghost Jonathan actually clobber Rachel with a baseball bat? Ghosts can do that?

* Did ghost-Addie really cut her foot on a piece of glass? Was it ghost glass? If it was real glass, isn’t it about time we stop thinking of them as ghosts, since they’re clearly corporeal?

* If Rachel doesn’t need a mask, why is she wearing one when Jonathan conks her on the head?

* Rachel explains that they chased Jonathan and Addie around the house was to scare them into recognizing that they were ghosts. Now, aside from making not a lick of sense, this is basically a flimsy justification for a Doctor Who/The Strangers crossover fic.

* Has Jonathan really been working on his second novel? Is he actually using his word processor in the same way he actually clubbed Rachel? If so, does that his book ghost-written? (Ha! Sorry. Low-hanging fruit).

Anyway, that’s Static. Man, what a waste of Sarah Shahi. And Sara Paxon. And about 100 minutes of my life.

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