In The Stay two couples, one outwardly troubled, the other seemingly having the ideal marriage plan a weekend getaway to an isolated house. How many times have we seen this plot? Actor turned director Scott Hamm and his co-writer Kipp Tribble think they’ve come up with a reason to sit through it again. Have they found a new twist on this old cliché? Have they at least made a better version of it than The Rental?
Misha (Michele Martin, Blue, The Last Rampage) is chatting on the phone and sending photos to somebody. It isn’t her husband, because she has to cut it short when Hayden (Scott Hamm, Undressed, Coffin) arrives home. They argue and get ready to take a weekend trip with friends Chris (Rob Mayes, John Dies at the End, Deep Blue Sea 2) and Nora (Nija Okoro, The Black Emperor of Broadway, From Hollywood to Rose).
Arriving there they meet the caretaker Bo-Lee (Kipp Tribble, Char Man, Coffin 2). Calling him eccentric might be a bit of an understatement. Gross and somewhat menacing might be a bit closer to the mark.
And that’s about where I started to have my issues with The Stay. Bo-Lee walks in on the two couples while they’re having dinner. He demands they tell him what they’re talking about, variously threatening to toss them out or get his gun and make them tell. That’s when I’d be packing, leaving and filing a complaint with Airbnb and the police. They, of course, just stay.
Actually, there’s so much effort put into making Bo-Lee look like a killer that it’s overkill whether he is dangerous or just a red herring. And you can probably guess which he turns out to be. Just like you can guess it was Chris that Misha was texting long before he walks in on them in the barn.
By the time a drunken game of Truth or Dare turns predictably ugly, the film has pretty well drifted into cliché territory, just like I feared it would. Right down to the killer keeping the potential last victim alive a bit too long. A couple of potential twists during the last half-hour are spoiled by some incredibly obvious foreshadowing as well. There’s mentioning something so it doesn’t come out of nowhere later. And then there’s making it obvious something is going to pop up again later.
It’s too bad the script was so weak because the technical elements are solid and the acting is good. The cast makes the best of what they have to work with, and there are several nice shots of what was a beautiful location. But there’s really no saving The Stay from its story. But at least it is better than The Rental. I’m giving The Stay two stars, it would have been one and a half but the opening scenes of Michele Martin in a bikini top and panties are worth rounding it up for.
The Stay has been picked up for release sometime in early 2021. You can check its Facebook page for dates and platforms when they are announced.