Stuck (2007, Stuart Gordon)

Based on the story of the Texas woman who hit a homeless man who wedged, still alive, in her windshield and instead of helping him she parked in the garage and let him die over a period of a few days, then went to jail when the story broke. Only now, in Stuart Gordon’s hands, the man escapes from the car and gets his bloody revenge! I had high hopes, and this movie did not let me down.

Seconds before the accident

Mena Suvari (the object of desire in American Beauty) is a partying nurse at an old folks’ home with a cheating drug-dealer boyfriend (Russell Hornsby of Edmond) and a horrible, manipulative boss (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon in her eighth S.G. picture). Stephen Rae (V For Vendetta and every Neil Jordan movie) is a hard-luck dude who can’t get a job and just got kicked out of his apartment. Anyone watching this has seen the film poster or video box and knows what’s coming when Rae is looking for a place to sleep at 3AM while Mena is driving home alone on liquor and ecstacy.

There’s some web-controvery over Mena’s cornrows – apparently the true-story driver was black, so why not cast a black actress?

But instead of turning this into a David Mamet psychological drama with our two characters conversing in the garage, Gordon expands the part of the original story that horrified people, which is not the accident but the fact that she did not try to help him, the lack of compassion. He spreads that lack of compassion Edmond-like across the city, showing all the people who could have helped poor Rae but did not: a cop who wouldn’t turn around and look at the car, the 911 operator who doesn’t try too hard to locate the garage (Jeffrey Combs audio-cameo), the next-door neighbors who wouldn’t get involved for fear of cops showing up and deporting them, the dude whose dog comes out of the garage covered in blood but he only worries about his clothes getting dirty, and of course the landlord and the employment-agency drone who help Rae into this position in the first place. But most of all we’ve got the woman from the newspaper story herself, who looked a dying man in the eye and opted not to help him. This is portrayed not just by Mena Suvari, who hits Rae with a plank of wood to shut him up and finally tries to burn her garage down to cover up the crime, but by her boyfriend, sent to assassinate Rae after getting challenged on his tough-talking, ending up defeated by a ballpoint pen to the eye. Gordon’s brand of horror is going in an intriguing new direction, keeping the suspense and the outrageousness and applying them to real-life situations, like the urban crime-horror of early Abel Ferrara.

He actually doesn’t drop the match – the girl lights her own stupid self on fire

Unusually great acting for a Stuart Gordon picture – I especially liked Russell Hornsby as the awful boyfriend, always trying to cover his ass, a perfect match for Suvari’s character. Plenty of gory bits – a windshield wiper in Rae’s side, the ballpoint pen, a broken leg with a bone sticking out, and the dog, oh jesus the dog! I tried to get Katy to watch this with me, but it’s a good thing she didn’t.

Russell finally offers to smother the dude with a pillow

Gordon: “that’s the world we are living in now. People are very selfish and afraid.”

Speaking of selfishness, the DVD is missing ten minutes of the movie and has no special features, so it’s sort of an anti-special-edition DVD. That is no fun.

Purdy-Gordon with co-worker Tanya