Stay appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. This transfer usually looked fine, but it lacked the merits to make it much above average.
For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. However, softness crept into wide shots, as edge enhancement made these moderately indistinct. Otherwise, most of the flick appeared acceptably well-defined and detailed. Some minor edges and shimmering occasionally occurred. Other than a speck or two, print flaws seemed absent.
Stay presented a limited palette that featured largely stylized colors. Within those constraints, the tones looked fine. They were reasonably concise and vivid. Black levels seemed fairly deep and firm, while shadows were somewhat up and down. Many shots offered good delineation, but others became a bit dense. Ultimately, Stay seemed a little too erratic for my liking.
As for the audio, Stay included a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Overall, the audio seemed good, mainly due to the many trippy scenes. The soundfield mainly came to life on those occasions. It used the rear speakers effectively for the scenes that dealt with those elements and created a lot of cool effects. Those worked nicely and accentuated the film’s mood.
Outside of those situations, the mix stayed pretty subdued. It offered nice stereo imaging for music and a general sense of ambience, but not much more than that. Still, enough of these freak-out bits occurred to make the track active and involving, and it featured the surrounds in a creative manner.
Audio quality appeared solid. Speech consistently came across as natural and concise, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music seemed clear and vivid, as the score presented firm tones. Effects also appeared clean and accurate. They suffered from no distortion and boasted fine bass response during the appropriate sequences. In the end, the audio of Stay served the movie fairly well.
A small mix of extras fills out the DVD. We get two “scene-specific” audio commentaries. The first comes from director Marc Forster and actor Ryan Gosling. They sit together and chat for 23 minutes, eight seconds. Forster and Gosling go into issues like the movie’s visuals and other stylistic choices, rehearsal and work among the actors, editing, and story topics. At no point does the commentary threaten to become particularly enlightening, but it offers some decent production notes. It proves interesting enough to keep us occupied for its short period.
The second track features director Marc Forster, director of photography Roberto Schaeffer, editor Matt Chesse and visual effects designer Kevin Tod Haug. All four sit together for their discussion. They talk about technical issues. We get information about transitions and editing, cinematography, locations and sets, and visual effects. A few story issues pop up as well.
Forster becomes a moderately frustrating participant at times. He really wants to keep the “magic” of the film alive, so he squelches remarks that might shed a little too much light on the story. Nonetheless, we get a pretty good overview of the movie’s nuts and bolts. The guys seem candid and lively as they go through the important issues related to the technical elements. They make this an interesting and entertaining piece.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we find two featurettes. Departing Visions runs seven minutes, three seconds and gives us remarks from folks who claim to have gone through near death experiences. We listen to Reuben Beckham, “Nancy”, “Peter”, and “Cristael”. They discuss what they say happened to them and how these doings affected their lives. I don’t know how much I buy the reality of their claims, but this is a moderately interesting first-hand discussion.
Finally, The Music of Stay goes for eight minutes, 19 seconds. It features information from composers Thad Spencer, Tom Scott, Chris Beaty, and Richard Werbowenko. They discuss instrumentation and the use of different techniques through the movie. They provide a good examination of the music and its interpretation into the flick.
Stay occupies the same spooky afterlife territory as something like The Sixth Sense, but it approaches its subject from a notably more obtuse angle. I don’t see that as a negative, though, for the film manages to remain consistently provocative and intriguing. The DVD offers reasonably good picture and audio along with a roster of moderately informative extras. This intriguing movie deserves a look.