Stay (2017) review

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A desperate man holds a woman captive in hope that she will fall in love with him in the new independent feature Stay from director Christopher James Cramer.

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Is it possible to force someone to fall in love? That’s the question that Christopher James Cramer asks with his latest film Stay. A pretty girl named Claire (Devin Brooke) wakes up on a sofa with no idea of how she got there. Sat on a chair opposite is a stranger named William (Zach Kanner) who has been watching her. Scared, Claire begins to scream but soon stops when she feels the rush of electricity hitting her body – she is wearing an electrified collar. William explains that should she try to leave the apartment they are in, she will find herself incapacitated and in a lot of pain.

We come to learn that William has kidnapped Claire in order for them to start a relationship. He forces her to clean, cook and paint, while she desperately tries numerous attempts to escape. With the plan not working out as he had expected, William gives Claire an ultimatum – play along and behave for one month and he will then let her go, if not, she will be hurt.Stay Poster Print 1 Front web 662x1024 Stay (2017) review

It has been known for hostages to grow attached to their captors and feel a need to remain with them. It’s known as the Stockholm Syndrome. Interestingly, Director Cramer looks at the topic of a captor trying to create a situation where the Stockholm Syndrome comes into play. Zach Kanner plays William as a socially awkward crazy man, akin to Kathy Bates’ character in Misery, yet less psychotic, and it works. He is instantly dislikeable, but you do sort of feel sorry for him as the movie progresses. Devin Brooke does very well in not making Claire just a pretty face – it would have been easy to just be a damsel in distress, but Brooke (and Cramer’s script) give Claire some teeth to bite back. Claire is a fighter and it’s refreshing to see.

I’ve said it before, but none film folk don’t realise how hard it is to complete a full feature film with little to no money. It’s due to the passion and work ethic that projects such as Stay make it to completion and I for one certainly appreciate everything that the cast and crew have done to complete a full-length film. That’s not to say Stay is a perfect movie – it’s not. But it is certainly good. To make a film with (mostly) just two character set in one apartment is a challenge. How can you make it so that the audience doesn’t lose interest and tune out? Well, I feel Cramer has succeeded. Not once did I become bored and start fidgeting and I also had no idea how the story would end – to be fair, I was surprised at the ending.

The acting from Brooke and Kanner is well done as is Cramer’s directing. The audio is crisp throughout and the score is decent too. I do think that the film was lacking in terms of production design and cinematography. With the subject matter being rather dark, I’d expect that to be matched with a darker colour pallet and set design – maybe something Fincher-esque. It would have increased the production value a hundred fold.

Stay has an interesting premise and it is executed in a solid, professional manner by all involved. I’m sure it will do well on the festival run and I’m equally sure Christopher James Cramer will be inundated with questions regarding where people can buy those electrified dog collars from.

4 / 5 stars     

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