October 23, 2008

Stuck

stuck

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of 5): ****

Director Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Edmond) returns with another amazing, comical, exploitation shocker, this one supposedly "based on a true story" (though Gordon himself takes the "story by" credit). Stuck's terrific opening introduces us to Brandi (Mena Suvari), a nurse at an assisted living home; she cheerfully makes her rounds among the old folks as hardcore hip-hop plays on the soundtrack, drowning out all other sound. At the same time, we meet Tom (Stephen Rea), an out of work sad sack no longer able to afford rent on his crummy apartment. A failed job interview later and he's on the street.

After a night of partying (she's on the verge of a promotion), Brandi's car strikes Tom on the street. He breaks his legs, goes halfway through her windshield and drips blood all over her seat. In a state of panic, she drives home and locks both the car and Tom in her garage. From there, it's a battle of wills as Brandi tries to figure out what to do and Tom refuses to die. Gordon gets the balance of gratuitous gore, suspense and humor just right. The film runs about 85 minutes (apparently cut from its festival length of 95 minutes), and the pacing never flags.

What's more, Gordon manages to occasionally elevate the film to a wry sign-of-the-times commentary; in one scene an immigrant family finds Tom but refuses to help him because of the trouble they could bring upon themselves. Brandi's boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby) is an amoral drug dealer who explains that people can really get away with anything ("Look who's in the White House!" he says, as proof.) Like a modern noir, Stuck manages each turn perfectly to morally justify -- but not excuse -- Brandi's behavior. She's not malicious. Rather, she simply wants to forget about her problem, wishing for it to go away without having to take any unpleasant actions. When Rashid first arrives, he seduces her before she can explain to him just what's in her garage, and she gladly succumbs, eager for a chance at blissful normalcy.

The gray, cruddy cinematography (set in Providence, but shot in Canada) adds to the film's rather desperate mood, but fortunately, Gordon's energy wins out in the end. Suvari also appeared in Gordon's Edmond; perhaps the two of them could become the horror version of Sternberg & Dietrich.

The 2008 DVD, from ThinkFilm and Image Entertainment, is pretty low-rent. It comes with a trailer for this and two other releases, optional Spanish and English subtitles and a choice between 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. A potential cult classic, this one is bound to have a "special edition" coming someday.



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Posted by cphillips at October 23, 2008 4:30 PM
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