Home invasion thrillers like recent offerings The Strangers or the fabulous and terrifying Ils owe a debt of course to Michael Haneke’s genre defining Funny Games. With little ground left to cover, it’s impressive how director Todd Levin’s managed to create a neat little gem out of familiar trappings.
When a young couple (Milo Ventimiglia and Sarah Shahi), grieving over the death of their son, are awoken in the night by Sara Paxton’s anxious visitor they’re apprehensive at first about her story of masked men stalking her. However, once it becomes clear they’re in danger themselves, it’s not long before they’re the prey in a deadly game.
At a lean 80 minutes (a whole four minutes longer than the aforementioned, taut Ils) Static could never be accused of being just that. Throwing in the usual clichés – sudden window appearances, disappearing behind the car bonnet, the wounded wife – the first hour or so of Levin’s thriller isn’t the most original piece of cinema. Coupled with a mid-act twist you’ll see coming before the knock on the door, you might think Static has little to keep you watching. But do.
That’s not to be say the performances (Paxton reviving a much creepier incarnation than last seen in The Innkeepers) aren’t up to scratch, with Ventimiglia proving a capable lead as the writer caught in a confusing trap and Shahi given a little more to do than scream and look scared.
But when it becomes clear exactly what these masked intruders are up to Levin’s film enters a rather different realm.
Whether you buy into that will very much affect your enjoyment of the film and though Levin throws in the kind of twist M. Night Shyamalan seems to have deserted, there’s a sense of completeness, when it comes, that makes Static stand out from the crowd. There’s nothing fuzzy about this film’s intentions then.