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Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/14/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/14/2008
I would venture to guess that most hardcore filmfans have their favorite underdog filmmaker. This would most likely be a director who has made several films, and one of them could have been popular, but they just never found mainstream success. (There are several filmmakers like this which I admire. What does that say about me?) Stuart Gordon certainly fits that description. His first film, Re-Animator, became a horror/gore touchstone, and his career has meander since then. The good news is that Gordon has continued to work regularly and he's created a diverse resume. The bad news is his latest film, Stuck.
Stuck introduces us to two people who are having very different days. Brandi Boski (Mena Suvari) works as a nurse assistant in nursing home. Despite the challenges of the job, she seems to really enjoy it. Her supervisor (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon) notices this and offers Brandi a promotion. She decides to go out with her friend & co-worker, Tanya (Rukiya Bernard), to celebrate. Meanwhile, Tom Bardo (Stephen Rea) has reached the end of his rope. He lost his job due to downsizing, the employment agency lost his paperwork, and he's been thrown out of his fleabag apartment. Homeless and hopeless, he tries to find a place to sleep for the night. Brandi meets her boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby) at a bar, where he plies her with drinks and Ecstasy. As they leave the bar, they make plans to meet at her house. Brandi starts home and is attempting to use her cell phone when Tom crosses the street in front of her. She hits the man and he flies over her hood and crashes through the windshield. Panicked, Brandi drives home with Tom still stuck in her window, pulls into the garage and closes the door. As Tom loses blood, legs broken, Brandi attempts to find a way to avoid out of this situation without calling the police.
Stuck is based on a real-life event which took place in Fort Worth, Texas in 2001. Drunk and high, rest home employee Chante Jawan Mallard struck a homeless man named Gregory Biggs, who became lodged in her windshield. She drove home, and Biggs bled to death while she had sex with her boyfriend, who then helped her move the body. She was sentenced to 50 years in prison. This story made national headlines and it has been the basis for episodes of C.S.I. and Law & Order. So, it's interesting that someone would want to make a feature film about it. Would they be able to stretch this bizarre story into a movie?
The answer is no. Stuck starts out promisingly enough. Despite her awful white-girl braids, Brandi is presented as a nice-enough person, and we can't help but feel for Tom. The accident is presented in horrific detail and Brandi's panic is palpable as she drives home to hide the incident. Following this, the movie goes straight downhill.
In real life, Gregory Biggs died within a few hours of the accident. With Stuck Director Stuart Gordon and Writer John Strysik use the incident as a jumping-off point and begin to take artistic license with the story. Tom stays alive while caught in the windshield, and just as in the real case, Brandi and Rashid have sex. This scene is surprisingly graphic and apparently has reached a point in her career where non-artistic nudity is not an issue. From there, the movie wants to be a suspense film where Brandi attempts to go about her normal routine and hopes that no one finds Tom. Stuck attempts to take on the tone of those films where we find ourselves siding with the bad guy. But, we want Tom to be found and we want Brandi to be punished, so the "suspense" in these scenes is counterproductive. Instead, Brandi comes off as one of the meanest characters in film history, and Tom seems to be indestructible.
And even at just 85 minutes, the movie seems to be grasping for things to extend the story, and this only makes it spiral further out of control. When does the movie reach its low point? Is it the cat fight where Brandi hits a naked woman with a frying pan? Is it the Pomeranian attack? Oh, there's too much to choose from. Or, is it the finale, which totally steers clear of the true story and brings about a conclusion which would be satisfying is the previous 80 minutes weren't so unbelievable.
Poor Stuart Gordon. 20 years ago, he was going to be horror's next big thing, and now he's reduced to making a movie which is simply an R-rated version of a LifeTime Movie. The case on which Stuck is based is certainly an interesting one, and despite the fact that it's hard to imagine anyone doing those things, the true story is easier to swallow than this movie.
Stuck crashes ontoBlu-ray Disc courtesy of Image Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 15 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are good, and the image has a nice level of detail (well, I say nice, but we can see every pimple on Suvari's forehead...I guess the braids are too tight.) The image is somewhat dark though, and while it certainly looks better than DVD, it's not on par with other Blu-ray transfers. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an impressive track, as the surround sound emits from the rear speakers at a steady stream throughout the film. (It's a shame how rarely this happens.) The stereo effects are very good as well. The speaker separation is good, and the bass response from the in-film music is wall-shaking.
The Stuck Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Stuart Gordon, Writer John Strysik, and actress Mena Suvari. This is a good commentary, as the trio offer scene specific commentary throughout the film. They discuss the story (and how it deviates from real life), the actors, and the locations. "Driving Forces: Director Stuart Gordon and Writer John Strysik" (8 minutes) has the two men commenting on the story and the making of the film. Unfortunately, there are about as many clips from the movie as there are comments. "The Gory Details: Special Effects and Make-up" (9 minutes) profiles special effects make-up artist Mike Measimer shows us how Tom's injuries were created. (What is up with that cheesy voice-over?) "Ripped from the Headlines: Behind the Scenes and Actual News Footage" (17 minutes) has comments from a reporter who covered the true story, as well as the cast and crew. They discuss the real-life events and how they were adapted for the film. Of course, we're here for the "actual news footage" which never arrives. We merely get glimpses at newspaper clippings. "Interviews and Exclusive Footage from the AFI Dallas International Film Festival" (25 minutes) features an interviews with Rea, Strysik, and the Target dog (How could I make that up?) and a Q&A after the film's screening. The final extra is the TRAILER for Stuck.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long