“There’s a car accident every seven minutes. So when you’re driving home tonight, drive really fast so you’re home in six minutes.”
This was master of horror Stuart Gordon’s mock advice prior to the screening of his latest feature, Stuck.
Based on a true story, the film follows the events of a car accident. Retiring home nurse Brandy (Mena Suvari) hits Tom Bardo (Stephen Rea), a homeless man, on her way home from a club. She soon realizes, however, it is difficult to flee the scene of a crime when the evidence is wedged in your windshield.
But Brandy is a determined woman. She drives home with Tom hanging halfway out of her windshield, all the while trying to keep his blood from staining the passenger seat. She stashes the car in the garage and tries to forget it ever happened. Eventually, Tom becomes too much of a nuisance and Brandy asks her boyfriend (Russell Hornsby) to help her take care of the problem.
In the real-life Texas case, the man was left lodged in the windshield for two to three days. He eventually died of blood loss and shock even though the initial injuries had not been life-threatening. Chante J. Mallard, 25, was found guilty of the murder of Gregory Glenn Biggs, 37, and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
When conceptualizing the story for the film, Gordon and writer John Strysik decided to change the final episode of the victim’s life. Therefore, the first half of the film is true to the actual story while the latter half unfolds as they think “it should have happened.”
This is a departure from the director’s adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft narratives, but it still deals with similar anxieties and fears. Stuck is not really a horror movie, but as Gordon points out, “Real-life is more horrifying than anything you can think of.”
The actors embrace their roles in the crime and give adequate portrayals of their characters but there is nothing exceptional about most of their performances. Suvari passes as the callous victimizer and Hornsby is energetic but still lacks credibility. On the other hand, Rea stands out as he thoroughly suffers and struggles for survival.
In such an absurd situation, comedy is imminent and Gordon and Strysik take full advantage of the unusual circumstances. While hitting someone with a two-by-four may not sound funny, it can be when the hitter claims not to mean any harm.
Stuck’s exploration of one person’s struggle to avoid trouble at the expense of someone else’s life is simultaneously fascinating and entertaining.