Lionel Mark Smith
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1st Nov 08
Plot "Hit me at 40 and thereís an 80 percent chance Iíll die. Leave me wedged in your windscreen for several days and Iíll refuse to die out of pure spite just so I can get my revenge."
Anyone responsible for a movie in which a severed head goes down on a bound screaming blonde deserves lasting recognition and acclaim. (In fact, any severed head that manages to go down on a bound, screaming blonde deserves lasting recognition and, at the very least, a pint). Re-Animator aside, Stuart Gordon has proved more consistent than most of the 80ís horror auteurs, though ironically he has largely worked outside of the genre for the past decade or so, making genre-bending movies with genuinely horrific moments. Stuck, a grim cinematic interpretation of true events that occurred in Texas a few years ago, is certainly horrific and riddled with common Gordon themes and imagery.
Gordonís career-long fondness for unpleasant physical detail is apparent here from the very first scene, which incorporates graphic, lingering shots of an old guyís shit-soiled ass and bed sheets. Anyone for chocolate cake?
Sexy Mena Suvari, who has a cool new Ďdo, is a care worker who pops a pill and downs some spirits on a fun Saturday night out prior to literally running into down-on-his-luck Stephen Rea in a breathtakingly staged car crash sequence. Rea is an ex-project manager who, in addition to being freshly jobless and homeless, now finds himself embedded in the windscreen of Suvariís car. Her street-smart boyfriend, upon finding out that she has driven the still-living guy home, still stuck in the window, assures the panicking Suvari that she has nothing to worry about : itís just a bum, no one will give a shit. To that end, she leaves him stuck in her car in her garage, hoping heíll die. He doesnít.
ďWhat the fuck is wrong with you?Ē asks an understandably stupefied, multiply wounded Rea of Suvari at one key point in Stuck. His question underlines the movieís pessimistic central indictment of our selfish modern society, in which ordinary people (not just Suvariís character) will fail to come to the aid of a guy in a desperate situation because they donít want to get involved. Gordon always works well with actors, and here Stephen Rea is terrific in arguably the most bizarre role of his career, making the most of the roleís extreme restrictions to convincingly essay a resilient guy who survives against all odds. Suvari is very good as an initially sympathetic character driven to callous, eventually psychotic behaviour by the credible need to save her own ass. A fairly explicit sex scene - another Gordon trademark - gives her a welcome nude scene and us the chance to check out those lovely small perky boobs.
This gruesomely fascinating tale, capped by a Tales From The Crypt-type just-desserts finale, offers various opportunities for Gordon to indulge his love of jet-black humour, and the filmmaker finds a very dark comic absurdity in scenes of Suvari driving around with Rea stuck in her windscreen (including driving past the cops). Thereís a notably hilarious bitch fight sequence involving a naked woman and a frying pan thatís pure queasy Gordon slapstick. Knowing, amusing asides include Suvari receiving a long, recorded series of menus when she dials an emergency helpline.
Also typical of Gordon is the presence of discomforting gory detail : at one point, while wriggling through the partially shattered windscreen, the bloodily battered Rea gets a wiper embedded in his stomach. Recalling the harrowing torment suffered by the anti-hero of Gordonís King of the Ants, Rea becomes increasingly uncomfortable to look at with his bloodshot eyes, seeping wounds, a painful lump on his head and a bone protruding from his leg. The climax produces one gasp-inducing biro-induced eyeball poking moment.
The directorís wife, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, has her trademark small role, and listen out for the voice of Jeffrey Combs as a 911 operator. Stuck is out now on Region 1 DVD. It may make you suffer some pangs of guilt about that twitching child you ran over and left for dead last weekend.