Most of us had to cope to with a really bad day. You know the type where everything that could go wrong does. The next time you are trying to recover from such a ill fated day in the world you might want to watch the 2007 film ‘Stuck’ by Stuart Gordon. It is about a young woman who is driving home one night and hits a homeless man. He doesn’t die, well not right away. The man becomes imbedded in her front windshield. She panics and instead of getting help drives him to her home and lets him die; later to dispose of the body. While this tale is considered by many to be an urban legend it was loosely based on the case of nurse's aide named Chante Mallard. On October 26, 2001 she was working as a nurse’s aide in Fort Worth, Texas when her 1997 Chevy Cavalier struck Gregory Glenn Biggs, a 37 year old homeless man. He became lodged in her windshield and begged for help but she let him die. Eventually Mallard was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Had Mallard taken Biggs to a hospital he would have survived. According to later testimony she went to have sex with her boyfriend while waiting for the in juried man to expire. This is a case with a complete lack of humanity; allowing a man to die because she feared the repercussions of her actions. This is a horrible example of the depths our inhumanity can reach and as such was perfect as the foundation of a movie. As with any flick that boasts ‘based on real events’ the story in ‘Stuck’ retains the basic elements of the true account but is rather liberal with altering things for editorial reasons. As you might expect the bloodshed and sex was retained in the story. The film had a very limited theatrical release with only a handful of screens showing it. Thankfully DVD releases of off beat movies are at their peak and the producers are hoping to recoup their $5 million budget in this venue. Helping in that regard is Image Entertainment; they always seem to find the quirky independent film to release to home theaters. Overall the film does work with some caveats; take it as a really dark comedy instead of a thriller.
It is always best to give some thought to what genre you classify a movie. Make the wrong selection and you will lose the audience immediately. In this case there are a few clues to try to force this flick into the box marked horror but that is a mistake. This story is the type that is so real that you have to turn it into a dark comedy. When showing the audience the depths of depravity a person is capable of it is usually a good idea to give then a laugh along the way. The pair of writers providing the script for this movie are both well known and respected in the horror community. Stuart Gordon, who also directed provided the basic transfer of the real story for the one shown here. He has been around for awhile with creepy tales of terror that included ‘Re-Animator’ and a few based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. He also had his turn with comedy with the cult classic ‘Space Truckers’. Gordon also managed to find horror in the mundane with his script for ‘The Dentist’. Credited with writing the actual script is John Strysik. He also has made a mark in the horror world albeit not to the extent of Gordon. Together they provide a well crafted and extremely dark story. The horror here is in the fact that this actually did happen. The chances of some supernatural killer hunting you down in a deserted forest are pretty much impossible but the basic events shown here did occur. The main theme here is a favorite one of mine; a reasonable person pushed by circumstances beyond reason. While usually it is for the ultimate good in this case that unreasonable behavior is motivated by a twisted sense of self preservation.
After Stuart Gordon made his initial splash by directing ‘Re-Animator’ he consolidated his position among horror and fantasy fans with works like ‘Dagon’ and the remake of ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’. He also helmed two episodes of the cable television anthology series ‘Masters of Horror’. In this movie the main reason it works is because Gordon treats it like any other horror film but infuses it with the dark humor. It has the look and feel of horror but along with the scares and jump scenes you are urged to laugh at how the young woman’s life is spiraling out of control as an innocent man dies. This does serve to allow the audience to distance themselves somewhat from the question that has to pass through your mind’ what would I do under these circumstances. For Gordon it is not enough that the young woman would face the rest of her life in jail. Like many in the audience he wants to see her suffer in everyway possible for what she did. It is a giant case of karma taken to an extreme. He also builds the character’s back stories further allowing the viewers to connect emotionally. The young woman, Brandi Boski (Mena Suvari) is a nurse’s aide working in a facility for the elderly. She is shown helping a patient who has defecated clean up. This demonstrates that she has the ability to empathize with others and has taken a job of helping those who cannot help themselves. In her off hours she deadens her feelings with sex, alcohol and drugs. The victim, Thomas Bardo (Stephen Rea) is a man who is having the worse imaginable time of his life. He was fired, lost his home and now faces being on the street.
This film is paced incredibly well. Gordon has a real knack for pulling the audience in and keeping it fully engaged. He juxtaposes the banalities of normal life with situations that are unbelievable yet fully realistic. As the film opens we see Brandi at work in the nursing home. She is well liked by the staff and the patients and was just informed by one of the administrators that she is high on the list for an up coming promotion. Meanwhile Thomas is facing eviction. He has recently lost his job and is unable to keep up the rent in the dank place he calls home. As he spends his first night homeless Brandi is out drinking and drugging at her usual night spot. As Brandi is driving home from her night of revelry she is trying to make a cell phone call and doesn’t notice Thomas has he absent mindedly steps in front of her car. She hits him and his lodges in her windshield. She panics and drives home with Thomas’ legs still protruding from the broken glass. She does try to take him to a hospital and anonymously dump him but is unable to free him from her car. Her boyfriend drives up and tries to calm her down. A Thomas slowly, painfully dies he hears Brandi having sex with her boyfriend. Later they try to cover up the crime but everything seems to conspire against them.
This is a solid piece of entertainment that anyone who likes a truly dark comedy will enjoy. Image Entertainment is one of the best places to go if you are looking for an independent film that most have never heard about. ‘Stuck’ may seem on the surface to be a horror flick but at its core is a great example of dark humor.
Posted 10/11/08 Posted 05/25/2019