Stuck

2008, Movie, R, 85 mins

Review

STUCK
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Horror director Stuart Gordon and screenwriter John Strysik use the shocking story of Chante Mallard -- the Texas nurse's aide who, after hitting a homeless man with her car, returned home with the poor guy sticking out of her windshield and left him to bleed to death in her garage before dumping his body in a public park -- as the basis for a drum-tight, extremely grisly thriller. And odd as it may sound given the subject matter, it's also surprisingly funny.

Gordon switches the locale from Fort Worth to the working-class outskirts of Providence, Rhode Island, where nurse's assistant Brandi Boski (Mena Suvari) has just been told by her imperious supervisor (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) that she's in the running for a promotion she could really use. That night, Brandi and co-worker Tanya (Rukiya Bernard) celebrate at a local bar over drinks and Ecstasy, courtesy of Brandi's drug-dealing, gangsta-poser boyfriend, Rahsid (Russell Hornsby). Brandi is more than a little buzzed when she heads home, and isn't watching the road when Tom Bardo (Stephen Rea), recently downsized from his job and newly evicted from his squalid apartment, steps in front of her car. Brandi hits him and he crashes headfirst through the windshield, where he becomes stuck. At first, Brandi does the right thing: She drives to the emergency room with Tom sprawled across the hood of her car, legs smashed and head bleeding profusely onto the passenger seat. But at the very last minute Brandi panics, and does a very wrong thing: She peels out of the parking lot, races home, parks the car in her garage and leaves Tom to bleed to death. Only Tom refuses to die.

The long, agonizing shots of Tom attempting to pull himself free from the wiper blade on which he's been impaled are vivid reminders of Gordon's background, which includes such classic gross-outs as THE RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND. But it's Gordon's appreciation of good acting – the same appreciation that led him to direct William H. Macy and Joe Mantegna in an adaptation of David Mamet's EDMOND – that boosts the film well above average. For all the blood and gore -- and there's quite a bit of both -- John Strysik's literate, blackly funny script is essentially a three-character chamber piece about victims, victimizers and the choices we make in a world over which few of us much control. Rea does quite a bit with a role that keeps him face down and bleeding like a stuck pig for most of the movie, but this is definitely Suvari's show: She's frighteningly good as fundamentally nice person who's gradually transformed into a blue-eyed, baby-faced monster with corn-rows. She'll haunt your dreams. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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