Scott Hamm, Kip Tribble
Love, hate, and betrayal. The be-all, end-all of desirable movie tropes that when used properly, can really elevate a film from mediocrity to excellence. When it comes to thrillers, is there any better well to tap into? I think not - and can certainly say that this particular well will probably never run dry. Certainly, writers Scott Hamm and Kip Tribble knew the power of these emotions when penning this film - and it worked out rather well. "The Stay" maybe a little textbook in the plot department, but there's a reason textbook is textbook and cliche is a cliche - because it works and usually works damn well.
In the film, our characters decide on a getaway weekend. No work, no internet, and perhaps a great way to all get on the same page again. It's quickly shown that Hayden and Misha are not doing so well in their marriage. This weekend could really make or break the couple's future together. On the other hand, Hayden's best friend Chris and his wife, Nora, seem to be the golden standard of relationships. Although as the film progresses, we learn this is not quite the case through little hints dropped. As a matter of fact, Chris has been having an affair with Misha - definitely something a best friend should not do, and it's this that sets up the entire film. Oh, that and the weird caretaker Bo-Lee. There definitely seems to be something off about him... and I'm not just talking about his gross habit of spitting in a bottle either.
As "The Stay" pushes forward and the couples weekend progresses, Hayden and Misha have more and more of a difficult time keeping their issues under wraps. Misha and Chris even get caught making out in the barn by Bo-Lee. But the big twist isn't that it's Hayden's best friend who is having an affair with his wife, or even the strange caretaker. The twist is much bigger than that. Did I see it coming? Of course I did... but that doesn't mean it wasn't handled well. In case you're wondering, I don't plan to lay out the big reveal; you'll simply have to watch for yourself.
When it comes to the film's more technical aspects, there's not really a lot to write. Generally speaking, this is a well done, slick, and polished independent film. With that said, at first, I noticed that the audio felt a little weird - almost too perfect in the dialog and very little in the atmosphere surrounding, but that cleared up quickly. Or, I just got used to it. It was nice to actually hear each and every word though. No question.
I also found that the first half of the movie was a little long in the tooth. Lots of exposition and maybe a tad more character-building than was needed - but overall, not too bad. The misdirection pushed onto its audience, in this case, me, was a nice little touch. Bo-Lee definitely came across as one strange individual, and I'm pretty sure that was the point. Some may find that the push to distrust the Bo-Lee character is as transparent as hell, and it was... but that doesn't mean it didn't make for a creepy viewing experience. All the right buttons were most definitely pressed.
When it's all said and done, "The Stay" ended up being loads more fun than I thought it would be. I'm not saying that it's a game-changing kind of film or that astute viewers will not start putting all the pieces together rather quickly... I'm just saying that the film was done well. Why reinvent the wheel? Once Scott Hamm guides us out of the second act and into the final one, this film really picks up the pace and makes sure to reward its viewers with an outstanding final act. Will you know what's coming? Probably, but you won't care; you'll still want to "see" it all unfold. "The Stay" is a well-written, well-directed, and well-acted independent film that won't change the world, but will keep you entertained for ninety minutes. Well done, four stars.