When Brandi (Mena Suvari) isn’t working as a nurses aide at a retirement home hosing the shit off of elderly men’s asses, she’s partying in the clubs; drinking and popping Ecstasy supplied to her by her drug-dealing boyfriend. Overall things are going pretty good for Brandi and after her boss informs her she’d like to reward all her hard work with a promotion, things look like they’re going to get even better. But after leaving a club fuggered up one early morning, a fly gets into Brandi’s ointment in the form of a pedestrian in her windshield. Thomas Bardo (Stephen Rea) is a sad sack having a really bad day. A string of bad luck has left him unemployed and recently without a place to live. As he is making his way to a shelter to spend the night, he is hit by a momentarily distracted Brandi when he crosses the street in front of her car. The impact leaves Thomas with shattered legs and stuck half-in, half-out of Brandi’s windshield. Thinking cops may not look too kindly on someone plowing into a pedestrian while under the influence, Brandi panics and drives home; hiding her car in the garage with poor Thomas still stuck inside it pleading for help.
Before I go on, let me state that I’ve had a pretty good run run with Netflix’s Instant Watch lately, so I guess it was about time I got a dud. I’d been looking forward to the film when it was first announced, not only because I’m a big fan of some of Stuart Gordon‘s Lovecraft-based stuff (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, DAGON), but also because it’s a film based on one of the most callous crimes committed in the last ten years. I was real curious to see what a renown horror director would do with it. But after some negative word-of-mouth I placed it on the back-burner of my list of films to watch; figuring I’d get around to it sooner or later. Now I wish I hadn’t. But I’ll get to my reasons why in a second. First, let’s check out the trailer and a bit back-story.
Don’t let the trailer fool you as it lies. STUCK wishes it was the dark comedy the trailer portrays, even though the plot is preposterous. It’s also very true. Back in 2001, 25-year-old Chante Mallard, a nurses aide, was returning home from a club when she struck a homeless man, Gregory Biggs. The poor guy ended up going through her windshield, his broken legs protruding out onto her hood. When she was unable to dislodge him, Chante drove home and parked her car in her garage with Briggs still wedged in her window. She would periodically go out to the garage to apologize to Briggs, who was begging for help, informing him she had called 911. She was lying of course, and Briggs died some hours later. Two of her acquaintances would dump Briggs body in a park where it was discovered later that morning. She would have gotten away with murdering Briggs had she kept her mouth shut, but fortunately she didn’t. Four months after she killed Briggs, police got a call from someone saying Chante was laughing about the incident at a party. Chante would later be convicted of killing Briggs and sentenced to 50 years in prison. The sad thing about all of it was that during the trial it was revealed Briggs would have survived his injuries had he gotten medical care.
I’m telling you all this so you can see that even the basic details of the story are more than enough to create a pretty decent film without the need for embellishment or major changes. Along with the horrific nature of the act and the extreme callousness that went along with it, there were also the claims of racial bias in the media that reared it’s ugly head. Some claimed the media was overlooking the story because Chante was black and Briggs was white, bolstering the belief that the media tones down black on white crime. Had the races been reversed, the media would given the story more attention — had the races and genders been reversed, the media would have had a field day. Now I’m not a here to debate any of that, but I mention it because what Gordon and crew end up doing with the film was a bit baffling to me and the liberties they take left a real bad taste in my mouth.
If STUCK had been a film loosely based on the actual event, then fine. They wouldn’t be the first to do so (CSI, LAW AND ORDER). But the similarities between the events of STUCK and the Chante Mallard incident are abundant. From the ages, the professions, the surrounding circumstances, hell, even the Brandi’s house looks like Chante’s as does her car. So it is obvious this was less a “loosely inspired” story and more of a retelling of what happened that night and the hours after. If you can get past the shitty acting and dialog (one conversation between Brandi and a co-worker about Mrs. Pashkewitz was absolutely maddening) STUCK is a fairly accurate depiction of the actual events up to Bardo being squirreled away in a garage. Well aside from the fact that they made Brandi white. But so the viewer wouldn’t lose site she is “urban” they have her sporting cornrows. Therein lies my first major issue. Why change the race of the main character, yet still place her in an hip-hop, urban setting complete with cornrows? Did, as some claim, a white girl steal a role from a black woman, or is this another example of race reversal seen in film and television often used when dramatizing actual events? I don’t care either way as both possible scenarios severely neutered the social aspect of the story itself. But to do this as well as tack on some bullshit, predictable Hollywood ending where everyone gets their comeuppance was to me, in very poor form.
Adding to these problems is the fact that there is absolutely no tension. You are supposed to sympathize with Bardo’s plight; hope for his ability to escape from his confines within Brandi’s garage and no longer have to listen to the rap music coming from Brandi’s house. But to be honest, I didn’t care if he lived or died. I just wanted him to do one or the other so I didn’t have to hear him yell “Help Me!” any longer. Brandi is the obvious villain, but I didn’t hate for what she did in the film as much as I hated her stupid-looking face underneath those stupid looking cornrows. She looked and acted like those white chicks who just got back on a Carnival cruise ship with their hair braided after a stop at Freeport…but now also acting gangsta. It didn’t work at all and made watching her performance very aggravating. Her boyfriend (Russell Hornsby) didn’t fare much better, changing from thug to a character in a Tyler Perry sitcom as fast as a frying pan to a naked Hispanic woman’s face. Lastly, the way the Hispanic family next door to Brandi is represented…well I’m not saying illegals don’t try and stay out of trouble for fear of being deported…but even they know how to call 911 anonymously. In STUCK, they should have had the father wearing a sombrero exclaiming something about not needing stinking badges while slamming an empty tequila bottle down on a table full of tacos.
The only reason why I am giving this abysmal film a star at all is because of the opening scene of a man shitting himself and one later in the movie when a Pomeranian finds its way into the garage and begins gnawing on the bone protruding from Bardo’s leg. The film also boasts one of the most unintentionally hilarious sex scenes I have ever seen. Other than that, this film is a complete failure and had me rolling my eyes so often I got dizzy.
Oh, if you plan on watching this anyway, at least make it fun by playing a drinking game me and Jaded came up with. Every time Brandi answers a question with a question, take a shot of Hennessy.