An exercise in atmosphere and tension is given an interesting twist in Static (2012), a solid little shocker which is certainly a cut above the usual uninspired horror titles which flood the budget DVD sales market on a weekly basis. Bereft over the death of their young child, famed novelist Jonathan Dade (Milo Ventimiglia) and his wife Addie (Sarah Shahi) are spending an intimate evening together in an attempt to patch up their fading relationship when a mysterious girl, Rachel (Sarah Paxton), suddenly arrives at their door. In a distressed state, she claims there is someone outside who has sabotaged her car and is now stalking her.
The accommodating Dades agree to shelter the terrified Rachel, but she seems intent on probing the husband about the tragedy and her strange behaviour begins to arouse suspicion. It isn’t long before the couple find their home and themselves under siege by the very mysterious intruders which they were warned about, but what do these masked men want with the pair? Static adheres pretty closely to the home invasion scenarios played out in the likes of The Strangers (2008) and Them (2006) before its unusual ending – which will either have you praising its ingenuity or rolling your eyes, depending on how open you are to a metaphysical angle creeping into the narrative of low budget American schlockers.
For the most part, debut director Todd Levin manages to wring a surprising amount of suspense from the threadbare story, even if he relies on a number of formulaic methods to do so. The masked assailants who congregate outside the house seems to be painfully inept at trying to capture their intended prey, and when Ventimiglia’s character dismissing a suspicious noise outside as “probably just the wind,” he certainly hasn’t been exposed to any similarly-themed films before.
Still, the ending carefully explains some of the strange quirks from earlier on in the tale, and the film as a whole manages to add something fresh to this over-familiar sub-genre. While Levin’s Static hardly breaks new cinematic ground (it’s bypassed the big screen over here and débuts on DVD), if you’re in the mood for an undemanding DTV chiller you could do a lot worse.