When I initially reviewed Stay in its theatrical release (click here to read it) I was very careful to avoid spoilers. The less you know about the plot going into a movie like this, the better. But now the cat's out of the bag, and the movie's own DVD additional release material has more slips than Freud.
Stay takes place in the kaleidoscope of one man’s mind — an alternate world where the ghosts of the dead blend with the shells of the living and where nothing is as it seems. We follow a New York psychiatrist, Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor), on his strange journey through this alternate universe of the psyche’s purgatory after he meets Henry Lethem (Ryan Gosling), a highly disturbed young painter whose death dreams put the last people he sees into an elaborate and dangerous fantasy world that they cannot control.
The suspenseful and often chilling Stay mines everything from modern psychology (Freud's id, ego and superego), to dreamscapes (think of the ending of Lucio Fulci's The Beyond), to fine art (the fictional Tristan Reveur's name has more meanings than one), to pop culture (The Beatles' I Am The Walrus; bare feet bringing to mind the "Paul Is Dead" rumors that surrounded the Abbey Road album). Seeing the movie a second time is even more fun than the first, as you look for all the clues and try to decide whether they're intentional or just in your own imagination.
This movie has appeal to arty horror fans, because you can never be sure if supernatural forces are at work until the final frame fades. Similar in terms of strange beauty and heavy symbolism to movies like Mulholland Drive or eXistenz, Stay isn't a film for everyone (as the poor box-numbers clearly showed) — but I hope more audacious cinephiles will give it a whirl on disc.
There is a plethora of additional release material to enjoy.
Scene specific commentary by director Marc Forster and Ryan Gosling — scenes include: 1) Sam and Henry Meet, 2) Strip Club, 3) I Met Your Mother, 4) Henry Heals Leon, 5) The Last Memory Before You Die
This featurette is the piece de resistance, as far as I'm concerned. It was very enlightening to hear the director and his star talk back and forth about things from the trivial (apparently, actress Amy Sedaris makes a mean cupcake) to the essential (what it meant to break the "180º rule"). In this intelligent and interesting commentary, the two men offer their personal observations, memories, and ask each other a lot of questions. Very well done, indeed.
Scene specific commentary by director Marc Forster, Matt Cheese, Kevin Todd Haug, Robert Schaefer — Same scenes, different people.
Departing Visions featurette — This is a mini-doc on the near death experience, with interviews involving those who claim to have gone through it. One interviewee, "Christael" (no last names here!), says that rather than going towards the light, she was drawn to a tunnel of inky darkness. Much is said not only about how they got to the fragile netherworld between life and death, but how they were able to return to their bodies.
A Music of Stay featurette and the theatrical trailer round out the DVD.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Be sure and check out Horror.com's EXCLUSIVE on-camera interview with Forster and Gosling. Click here.