APRIL 24, 2008
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (PRESS SCREENING)
Why can’t Carpenter follow Stuart Gordon’s lead? After dabbling with big budget, more studio friendly movies, Gordon retreated back into the world of independent cinema, resulting in a very strong output over the past 10 years. The latest is Stuck, and while it has a few problems, it’s the exact type of film I want to see from the legends of the 70s and 80s – a small film that maximizes its potential, rather than high concept garbage that falls flat (you heard me, Ghosts of Mars).
And the concept is a great one – Mena Suvari accidentally hits Steven Rea with her car, and rather than take him to a hospital, she leaves him bleeding and impaled around the waist area, through her windshield. The film is basically just Rea trying to escape and Suvari trying to hide him while she figures out what to do. Most of the film takes place in Suvari’s house/garage, and the cast is pretty compact as well. It allows Gordon to more or less fully flesh out an idea, rather than shoot for the sky and fall flat.
Hell, this would work even better had Gordon gone even SMALLER, particularly, for a Masters of Horror episode. While it’s hardly a long film (85 minutes maybe?), it does get a bit repetitive in the middle, particularly when Suvari’s friend shows up and she has to convince the girl that she simply hit a deer. The black humor doesn’t work as well here (it feels like a sitcom) and it’s just another complication when there are already several. Wiping this chunk (actually, the entire character, who is annoying throughout) out of the film would have improved it immensely, in my opinion.
I also would have liked to have seen a verbal showdown between Rea and Suvari. He’s a homeless guy, and she makes her living taking care of old folks at a nursing home (why someone who’s so good at her job that she is due for a promotion can’t even bother to bring a hurt man some water is another unexplored avenue, but not really an issue). Even if just a brief one, I think a full-blown conversation between the two (instead of brief exchanges, usually consisting of only a single line or two), would be one of the film’s best scenes.
Otherwise, it’s a solid suspense flick. Rea is fantastic, as always, and a scene where he attempts to remove a broken windshield wiper from his belly is a nice, bloody, cringe-worthy setpiece. The scene culminates with Rea making a phone call to 911, and having to deal with none other than Jeffrey Combs (voice only) as the world’s most impatient 911 operator. In fact, there are a lot of jokes at the expense of bureaucracy and “the system”, which got quite a few laughs out of me. And the finale is a surprisingly bloody and violent one, with everyone more or less getting their just desserts in a crowd-pleasing fashion.
This one is going into limited release, if you happen to live nearby you should check it out, if for nothing else other than to reassure yourself that the guys who made the films we grew up on still know how to make an effective film when they want to.
What say you?