“please . . . . . . help me . . . .”

The H-Bomb:  Thomas Bardo (Stephen Rea) is a hard up schlub who is having one shitty day: he’s been kicked out of his apartment, the unemployment office told him they lost his application after keeping him waiting for three hours, and a cop booted him off his park bench just as he was settling in for the night.  As if his situation couldn’t get any worse, or more degrading, a fucking car plows into him.  It’s not bad enough that his leg is broken and he’s been cut to ribbons, he is actually lodged in the front windshield of this vehicle, and he can’t get out.

The driver, Brandi Boski (Mena Suvari), is a nurse at a retirement home who is seriously being considered for a big promotion.  Since she’s been out drinking and taking Ecstasy, this little incident could land her in trouble with the law, as well as jeopardize her promotion.  So she decides to simply drive home… with Thomas trapped in her windshield.  She locks him and the car up in her garage, leaving him there overnight, barely alive and bleeding all over her car, as she tries to figure out what to do with him.  Not figure out how to help him, mind you, but how to get rid of him.

This 2007 indie comes to us from director Stuart Gordon, who based his story, as incredible as it sounds, on a true incident, in which a woman hit a homeless man with her car, leaving him stuck in the windshield, and instead of getting him medical attention, just left him to die.  The man did indeed perish, and the woman went to prison, but fate may have  something else, something a little less cut and dry, in store for the characters of “Stuck“.

Gordon, one of my favorite genre directors, made a name for himself with enjoyably schlocky films like “Re-Animator”, and here, like with that film, he expertly blends elements of thriller, morality tale, and black comedy.  All that’s missing from this wicked brew are his usual Lovecraftian horror elements.  The result is a shamefully under-seen motion picture that’s a gruesome, fiendish delight.

We feel for Thomas, we really do, as he truly is a guy with the worst luck in the world.  Even a fellow homeless man points out to him, before the big incident, how ironic his life is.  And it very much is.  It’s tragic, too, but we can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of his predicament.  It’s a nasty, biting humor, for sure, and we hate ourselves for laughing, but we laugh nonetheless.

Of course, we’re on Thomas’ side all the way, but we’re also made to understand Brandi’s reasoning, as she too is stuck.  Stuck by her desire to not go to prison, stuck by not wanting to spray wash the diarrhea off of old Mr. Binckley’s ass for the rest of her life, and, most of all, stuck by all the bad decisions she keeps making.  She truly digs herself deeper and deeper into a hole, until finishing Thomas off becomes her only option.  We’re made to feel her desperation.  We may despise her, but we understand what she has to lose, and why she does what she does.

The empathic lead performances really help us relate to the characters.  Rea, with his droopy, basset hound face, is the ultimate sad sack actor, and he is perfect as a man who’s been beaten down by life, only to have it then take a piss on him, to boot.  Suvari, whose Brandi isn’t necessarily a bad person, just cursed with shockingly bad judgment and selfishness, finally displays the same kind of potential she showed in “American Beauty” so many years ago.  That ass-ugly cornrow hairdo of hers, however…  she could’ve done without that.

“Stuck” was made on a low budget, and it looks it, but the down-n-dirty look actually adds to the credibility of it.  Running at a slight 85 minutes (credits included), it’s a killer little thriller that moves at a swift pace as it plays out unpredictably, with a surprising amount of gore and gallows humor thrown in for good measure.  “Stuck” is currently on Netflix Instant Play, do yourself a favor and give it a watch…  if you think you have the stomach for it.

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