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  Stuck Don't Blame Me
Year: 2007
Director: Stuart Gordon
Stars: Stephen Rea, Mena Suvari, Russell Hornsby, Rukiya Bernard, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Lionel Mark Smith, Wayne Robson, R.D. Reid, Patrick McKenna, Sharlene Royer, Bunthivy Nou, Suzanne Short, Wally McKinnon, John Dart, Liam McNamara, Jeffrey Combs
Genre: Horror, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Brandi Boski (Mena Suvari) works in a care home for the elderly, where today she is looking after one of her patients, an old man who always asks for her by name, apparently unaware of anybody else in the home. As she clears up after him for the umpteenth time, harrassed Brandi is accosted by her boss (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) who inquires if she is available to come into work tomorrow, tomorrow being a Saturday. When the boss dangles the possibility of a promotion in front of her, she doesn't want to jeopardise her chances so agrees to whatever she is asked, but her prospects will be seriously damaged when she bumps into a homeless man on the way home that night.

That's not "bumps into" as meeting in the street, that's bumps into as running him over with her car. The homeless man is Tom Bardo (Stephen Rea), who has recently lost his job and just this afternoon has lost his apartment, having to rush out of there with an armful of his clothes and owing money to his hostile landlord. He did have a hope of getting a new job, but the employment service has mislaid him in their files, and we can tell he is doomed to spend quite some time on the streets from now on. Or at least, he would if he wasn't lodged in the windscreen of Brandi's car.

If this sounds familiar, then that is because it was inspired by an actual incident, the case of a Texan woman who hit a homeless man and left him to die when he got stuck in the windscreen of her vehicle, but the way director Stuart Gordon and his writer John Strysik plays this out is different to the manner in which it happened in real life. It appeared to have inspired Gordon, and he produced some of his highest profile work in years; certainly horror fans had never deserted him, but with this he showed he still had what it took to shock and here, make you think as well. While the real life killer had been black, here she is white, so the race angle is not emphasised, instead there is an alternative tack adopted here.

If you're one of those people whose mind shuts off when someone starts to talk about the plight of the homeless, not because you utterly despise the less fortunate but because they're not people you choose to spend your time thinking about, then you may well recognise Brandi's gut reaction to getting one of them trapped in her life. Having been high on drugs and alcohol at the time of the accident, she is not in the best condition to take on board what she has done, so after parking her car - and Tom - in her garage, she staggers inside and calls her boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby, one of a trio of excellent leading performances), who comes over, doesn't realise the gravity of the situation, and proceeds to take her to bed.

The next day, Tom is still alive and the more the hours pass the less Brandi wants to call the police, as she knows she's in trouble. In a nod to his Re-Animator days, Gordon milks the gore sequences for all they're worth, but this is no straight horror movie, as there is a conscience at work here. Some have described Stuck as a comedy, but it's more of an outrageous drama which may have blackly humorous moments, but in fact plays out as an act of revenge not only upon the real life criminals who left the victim to die, but on all those who would prefer to allow the disadvantaged to rot. Brandi is barely more privileged than Tom, but doesn't wish to think about them, not even the one she has nearly killed, and while she starts out as someone we see has got in over her head, she grows less likeable in her protestations that Tom's condition is his own fault, as if blind to her own failings, indicative of the society that has made her this way. A surprisingly angry and political work, Stuck was far more than a simple true crime tale. Music by Bobby Johnston.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Stuart Gordon  (1947 - )

American director of horror and sci-fi, who made his debut in 1985 with Re-Animator, following 15 years working in theatre in Chicago. This HP Lovecraft adaptation was a spectacular mix of chills, black comedy and inventive splatter, but while it still remains his best film, the likes of From Beyond, Dolls, The Pit and the Pendulum, Space Truckers and Dagon do have their moments. He followed these with the David Mamet adaptation Edmond and true crime-inspired Stuck. Gordon also wrote the story for the box office smash Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

 
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