Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 10th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: USA, September 24th, 2003
Director: Adrian Kays
Writer: Adrian Kays
Cast: Andrew Hulse, Bill Akin, Speedy Arnold, V. Kim Blish
DVD Released: November 15th, 2005
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.99
Synopsis: Andrew Morrison comes across a red box in his parents’ garage that contains unexplained references to his unknown past that may forever alter his future. Andrew hires a private investigator that helps him find his birth mother. Tragedy would soon intervene as his birth mother shortly after reading Andrew’s letter would commit suicide and once again he would find himself at a dead end. Andrew presses in his investigations into the past with a clue he found hidden in his mothers apartment. What is his mothers’ connection to the Ashton 5 a murder spree that happened nearly thirty years ago?
Director Adrian Kays makes an impressive directorial debut with Stillwater. First off this film is not a horror film as most of the more gruesome chilling moments happen off screen and are often implied or at least referred to. The film is filled with quirky characters like the actor who platys the private eye James Webber. Performance wise most of the actors involved are more then adequate. Outside of the films lead character Andrew the rest of the films characters are basically one dimensional and only serve as props the further the story. Andrew Hulse who plays Andrew Morrison in the film is the only fleshed out character and so much of the film relies on his performance. His performance while cold and detached most of the film actually works well with in the confines of the film.
Ones heritage is a very important part of which we are and were we came from. The plot device in which Andrew searches for his birth mother is something virtually everyone can relate too. The main theme that run through this film is heredity madness and can is be passed from generation to generation like the genes that make up are DNA. By the end of the film when we know the whole story we are still left wondering if Andrew is just like his father or has he even changed at all. I felt the films’ ending was ambiguous and it left to many questions unanswered. Early on were are briefly lead to believe that there may be a copy cat killer recreating the Ashton 5 murders and while all evidence points towards Andrew it is still unclear by the end of the film if these murders really happened or if Andrew imagined them. Stillwater is an ambitious film that never fully reaches it potential.
Synapse presents Stillwater in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The colors are strong through out and flesh tones look healthy. The black levels are strong as details remain sharp in the back and the fore ground. There is some mild grain that is noticeable through out. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum. Overall this is a solid transfer that is virtually free on any print damage.
This release comes with two audio options a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Dolby Digital stereo both are in English. Both audio tracks are clean and free of any hiss or distortion. The music and effects sound evenly mixed as they never overpower the other. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounds more robust then the Dolby Digital stereo mix.
Extras include the films original trailer, a production still gallery and a biography for director Adrian Kays. The main extra for this release is an audio commentary with Adrian Kays, Andrew Hulse and Lyn Moncrief. The audio commentary is filled with lots of background stories and other behind the scenes stories. Overall all three participants’ have plenty to say and there is never a dull moment.
Synapse Films have assembled another solid DVD release. Stillwater is an eerie murder mystery that cleverly keeps its darkest secrets under wraps until the very end.