DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: TIFF REPORT #9 - Stuck

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

TIFF REPORT #9 - Stuck

Stuck (2007) dir. Stuart Gordon
Starring: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby


“Stuck” has one of the most intriguing film concepts– a man is hit by a car and gets stuck in the windshield. The female driver fears prosecution and drives him to her home where she leaves him to die in her garage overnight. And ironically the film is inspired by actual events. Veteran horror-film director Stuart “Re-Animator” Gordon and writer John Strysik tackles the story with a unique b-movie spin turning the film into an effective absurdist black comedy.

Stephen Rea plays the humble protagonist Tom. He’s just been evicted from his apartment and forced out onto the street with a handful of clothes as his only possessions. He’s met by a kindly homeless person who graciously gives him a grocery cart to carry his belongings. Tom thinks he’s at the lowest possible point in his life, until he meets Brandi that is.

Brandi (Mena Suvari) is interestingly drawn. She’s a decent care-worker in an old age home. She seems to have her head on both shoulders – career-oriented, responsible and hardworking. But Brandi’s not all red roses. She’s got a gangster-streak in her. Brandi’s hair is braided into atrociously inappropriate cornrows, and her nails are intricately painted like museum artwork. Her boyfriend – Rashid (Russell Hornsby) is a drug dealer who supplies her and her friends with a steady supply of ecstasy and weed. After a night of partying Brandi drives home high and crashes into friendly Tom. The crash is horrific, dramatized in super slo-mo, breaking his shins and sending him hurdling into the windshield. Brandi is so shocked she drives him home into her garage to gather her thoughts.

Fearing criminal charges she doesn’t tell anyone, until the next day when he enlists Rashid into ‘taking care’ of the problem and making Tom disappear. But Tom is a resilient crash victim and so begins a battle for survival against Brandi and Rashid.

For the first half of the film I struggled with the tone. The opening sequence is a slow-motion parody of rap videos inside the old folks home. And when we first see Brandi’s cornrows, it’s a shock – in fact, I couldn’t not take my eyes off them the whole film. After the crash, with Tom stuck in the windshield, their interaction is off kilter. I couldn’t figure out if the film was horror, comedy, drama or all of the above. As the film moves along and Tom has to find safety the film’s tone made sense. It settles nicely into a b-movie absurdist black comedy territory which could have played along side Tarantino and Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse” doublebill.

The sex scene with Brandi and Rashid is shown in graphic length. It’s exploitive and funny at the same time. The hallucination of Tom coming through the windshield while Rashid is on top of Brandi confirmed the tone. And the battle in the garage is wonderful Grindhouse-like sequence of events.

Mena Suvari, who also serves as one of the producers, is surprisingly good and turns in a darkly comic outrageous performance. She has no problem having fun with the role, braiding her hair and stripping down for some nasty sex.

“Stuck” knows its place in the genre. Like “Snakes on a Place”, it could be a fun theatre experience for a cine-loving audience. “Stuck” bests “Snakes” because it doesn’t coast by on the premise, it brings us some genuine thrills, chills and laughs with a 'Ripley's Believe it or Not" reality. Enjoy.

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