Friday, September 17, 2010

DVD Review: Stuck (2007)

STUCK (2007)
"Two destinies are about to collide"

RUN TIME: 85 Min.
DIRECTOR: Stuart Gordon
CAST: Mena Suvari (Brandi), Stephen Rhea (Thomas Bardo), Rusell Hornsby (Rashid), Rukiya Bernard (Tanya), Carolyn Purdy-Gordon (Peterson)

SUMMARY: Brandi is a hard-partying, overworked, nursing assistant desperate for a promotion at the retirement home where she works. After a night of drug-binging and partying, she accidentally hits a certain Thomas Bardo a deadbeat and recently evicted man who gets stuck in the windshield of her car. Not wanting to call for help since she is driving under the influence, Brandi, chooses not to get Thomas medical help and instead drives home and leaves him clinging to his life in the windshield of her car. While Brandi frantically tries to decide what she is going to do, Thomas, tries to free himself knowing his time is running out.

THE FILM: Stuart Gordon has made some phenomenal films, particularly in the mid-late 80's, classic genre cinema including RE-ANIMATOR (1985), FROM BEYOND (1986), DOLLS (1987) and DAGON (2001). Outside of his theatrical work he's also directed some decent genre TV fare like Showtime's MASTERS OF HORROR series of which he directed two episodes, the H.P. Lovecraft inspired "Dreams in the Witch House" and the Edgar Allen Poe adaptation "The Black Cat" featuring longtime collaborator Jeffrey Combs. After the demise of MoH he went on to direct an episode FEAR ITSELF,  the Cajun-cannibal episode "Eater". Between these television projects he directed this "ripped from the headlines" revenge thriller featuring Mena Suvari (AMERICAN BEAUTY) and Stephen Rhea (THE CRYING GAME). The actual crime involved a registered nurse in Fort Worth, TX striking a homeless man. The man is trapped in the windshield, mortally wounded but still alive, she drives home and leaves him in the garage for several days until he dies. Afterwards she attempted to burn the car and the body in an effort to dispose of the evidence. WTF, right? An act so heinous and unbelievably callous that it boggles the mind, forget about serial killers and imagined bogeymen, this is the true evil of the world. Director Stuart Gordon gives this man the filmic revenge that he deserved in life, the script is about half fact-based the rest is pure revenge-fantasy.

As the opening credit role we're treated to a a cool hip-hop tune which kind of threw me. I don't associate Gordon films with urban music, I think of the great film scores for RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND by Richard Band, but I'll role with it as it suited the film. We meet Brandi, a nursing assistant at a assisted living facility. What a job, it's bad enough cleaning up after incontinent old men but when they ask for you by name to do so? After work she and gal pal Tanya (Rikiya Bernard) blow off steam by hitting the club and tripping on ecstasy courtesy of boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby). Afterwards, Brandi gets behind the wheel and heads home, visibly inebriated. Enter Thomas Bardo (Stephen Rhea), he's been evicted from his apartment and is plagued by the phrase "It's your choice". Fate is transpiring against him, there are no real choices, just the cold fact that he's newly homeless, alone and desperate with nowhere to go.  While he's wondering the streets pushing his newly acquired shopping cart and contemplating the woes life he's viciously slammed into by Brandi at an intersection. She's swerving all over the road and fucking with her cell phone, she doesn't see him until it's too late. It's a brutal scene as his knees and shins break against the car, face smashing through the windshield. Knowing she's drunk and at fault she speeds home, shockingly unnoticed by anyone except a homeless man. She parks the car in the garage and makes no effort to help as he pleads for assistance, it's difficult to watch. Leaving him alone in the garage she's shaken but no so much so that she can't fuck her man as Tom lays dying in her garage just a few yards away. Rusell Hornsby as Brandi's lover is awesome, he's a funny cat and his portrayal of her drug-dealing,  philandering boyfriend is good stuff. Stephen Rhea is amazing, you feel his suffering throughout the film, as well as his rage. It's torture watching him as he extricates himself from her car, a windshield wiper piercing deep into his side. While one can't help but feel sadness at the tragedy of this film I couldn't help but elicit a few laughs at the complete dumbassery of Brandi and Rashid's actions throughout the film. She's always going on and on about how could HE do this to HER -  it just boggles the mind how self-obsessed she is. Tom's revenge is is slow in the coming, he suffers a lot and it's excruciating to watch, but it's thrilling to see.

DVD: The DVD release of STUCK is released by Image Entertainment. Presented in it's theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with a 5.1 surround audio track. No special features, not even a commentary. Sad really as I would have loved to hear director Stuart Gordon's thoughts on the crime that inspired the film. The image quality and sound are quite good, no complaints there.

VERDICT: This is a first class revenge thriller/dark comedy with some truly inspired performances from Stephen Rhea, Mena Suvari, and Russel Hornsby.  It was a surprise how much I enjoyed Suvari's performance after the steaming-turd that was Steve Minier's DAY OF THE DEAD remake.  Stuart Gordon's still got I'm happy to report.  
**** (4 out of 5 stars)