Static (Blu-ray 3D) (2012)

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Released 16-Oct-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama/Horror Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Accent Entertainment x 4
More…-3D & 2D versions of the film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 83:14 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Todd Levin
Studio
Distributor
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Milo Ventimiglia
Sarah Shahi
Sara Paxton
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Tim Ziesmer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Successful author Jonathan Dade (Milo Ventimiglia) had moved with his wife Addie (Sarah Shahi) and three year old son Thomas to a house in the country to finish his next novel. But tragedy struck when Thomas drowned in a pond, leaving the couple bereft and their marriage in tatters. One night a distraught young woman bangs on their door. This is Rachel (Sara Paxton); she tells the couple that she had a flat tyre but when she got out to fix it she was accosted by men wearing gas masks and that these men are still out there. Jonathan goes to check and finds that Rachael’s car had been disabled deliberately, but no-one is there; meanwhile, inside the house Rachel seems to know a lot about Jonathan and the drowning of Thomas. When Jonathan returns he allows Rachel to stay in the house overnight over Addie’s objections. But before very long gas mask wearing intruders invade and abduct Rachael, leading to a night of terror.

     Static is a horror film that shows the audience at the beginning how everything is going to end, so the main interest in the plot is how it happened. Astute watchers will most likely work it out, but I will say that for the most part Static is genuinely frightening, mostly because the intruders remain, for much of the film, masked and shadowy intruders, their purpose unknown, their threat very real for it being unspecified. Thus the film is completely seen from the POV of either Jonathan or Addie, and follows their struggles to understand what is happening and why. Accordingly, it is just as well that Milo Ventimiglia and Sarah Shahi do a great job of carrying off the terror and confusion of a couple seemingly involved in a random attack.

     Static is a well-made and subtle film, and although it was made in 3D there are no obvious things flying at the viewer to create scares. Instead, the film relies on its sound design and the menace of things unseen in the darkness for its tension and frights. The sound design is nicely done, with minimal music so there is no signalling of the frights; instead there is the sound of creaking floorboards, the rustle of the leaves or doors opening and closing to create the tension and sense of dread. The film also neither relies on blood or gore for its shocks nor for the participants to do imbecilic things, like going alone into darkened rooms. As well, the ending does make sense once you accept the premise.

     Overall Static is an impressive horror / drama that is well made, well-acted and delivers a tense, scary experience without having to rely upon blood and gore for its shocks.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Static is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Set mostly in the darkness of one night, this is not a film with a lot of brightness or colour although daytime colours are natural but muted. Reviews of the US Blu-ray indicate that their print is so dark as to be almost incomprehensible as you cannot see what is happening, but that this not the case with our Australian release where blacks are solid and shadow detail good; when the couple are in the trees in the dark, for example, the leaves are nicely delineated. Skin tones are good, if on the light side.

     I think there is a trade-off however. In quite a few scenes the brightness varies; it is as if a car’s lights were passing outside the window (although there were no cars) and the scene goes from darker to lighter, back to darker all in a few seconds. The other issue is a circular banding effect that occurs fairly frequently; circular lines appear on walls and the colours within the lines vary – see 13:43, 13:54 and 38:25 for only a few examples. This is fairly distracting; reviews of the US Blu-ray indicate it is affected by the same banding.

     There was also some motion ghosting against trees, but no marks.

     The print is OK, certainly better than the US release, but there are more issues than I would expect from a recent release. However, as reported in the US, the issues may be related to the way the film was shot, not necessarily the authoring of the Blu-ray.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English DTS-MA HD 5.1.

     Films like Static rely on their sound design to build tension and deliver shocks, and this audio delivers with a subtle but enveloping audio track. Dialogue is always clear even when whispered. The sounds of the house and environs are not overdone – there are silences which are broken by creaking floorboards, the rustle of the leaves and doors opening and closing. These effects do pan around the rears as well, building to a louder level during terror moments, giving a good enveloping feel. The sub-woofer added effective bass to tense moments and depth to the scares but never unbalanced the sound design.

     The score by Tim Ziesmer was minimalist and effective and did not signal the scares. The opening theme was by Ryan Rehm.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

     The audio was excellent, subtle and not overblown, just what the film required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers (10:01)

     The following trailers play on start-up and must be skipped: The Conspiracy, Hotel Noir, Pig and Masquerade. They can also be selected from the menu, plus a trailer for Static.

3D / 2D

     The 3D or 2D version of the film can be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US Blu-ray has an audio commentary by director, co-writers / producers Todd Levin, Gabriel Cowan and John Suits that is reported to be reasonable. The US release is a three disc set with two Blu-rays, a 3D and 2D version, plus a DVD. The 3D disc, strangely, allows you to select 2D so it is the same as we have, making the separate 2D Blu-ray superfluous. However, reviews of the US release point to it being so dark that much of the latter scenes cannot be seen. Their release does also suffer from the same “banding” effect I mentioned above although the brightness changes are not noted. This is a hard call: the commentary would usually sway the recommendation towards the US release, but if you cannot see much of the film that would, I think, negate the commentary.

     There is a Region 2 UK DVD release of the film but no Blu-ray is listed.

     Close, but I would go with the Australian release despite the technical issues because at least you can see what is happening.

Summary

     Static is nothing too original but it is well made and well-acted, tense and scary and so is worth a look for anyone interested in the genre.

     The video has some issues, as do releases in other regions, the audio is very good. Trailers are the only extras, although there are two versions of the film on the Blu-ray disc..

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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