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Mena Suvari in Stuck

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

STUCK is yet another of those horror tales “inspired by a true story”… and one suspects that had the filmmakers stuck to the truth, a better film may have resulted.

The true story in question involved a retirement home worker from Ft Worth, Texas, who had struck a man with her car while under the influence and, in panic, left him stuck in her windshield for days.

Stuart Gordon’s film takes this outline and embellishes it, creating – in his own words – a macabre “Hitchcockian suspense”, complete with gruesome special effects (well, what else could you expect from the man behind cult favourite, Re-Animator?).

Brandi (Mena Suvari) is a compassionate carer at a retirement home who decides to celebrate her impending promotion by having a night on the town with colleagues and her boyfriend, Rashid (Russell Hornsby).

On the same day, however, Tom (Stephen Rea) finds himself evicted and desperately in need of a new start in life. The two collide, literally, when Brandi hits him head-on with her car, while still under the influence, and Tom becomes stuck in her windshield, held in by the sharp shards of glass.

In a panic, Brandi drives home and hides the car and the semi-conscious Tom in her garage, creating a plan to dispose of the body and save her career in the process. But as Tom figures out what’s going on, he determines to survive… if only he can get out of the windscreen!

To be fair, the film does keep you gripped because of the grim fascination of its premise – but that doesn’t make it a good movie. Rather, it’s let down by some shoddy characterisation (Suvari, especially, fails to generate any moral complexity or sympathy), and a hopelessly uneven tone, which seems to want to be taken seriously one minute, and darkly funny the next (especially in Hornsby’s depiction of Rashid).

Gordon also relies a little too heavily on contrivance or cheap shock tactics to keep the story moving along, while his resolution is hideously over the top.

In real-life, the victim of the incident perished and the care worker was convicted of murder. The case also inspired episodes of long-running TV series CSI and Law & Order.

In film form, however, Stuck finds itself trapped by its filmmakers’ insistence on straining credibility and pandering to bog-standard horror convention.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 85mins
UK DVD Release: May 11, 2009