Stuck is an indie melodramedy (or maybe a pointed black comedy) based on a real incident so incredible that
if it were a work of pure fiction, one would never believe it. Court TV
described the case as follows:
"Chante Jawan Mallard was driving home from a dance club in
Arlington, Texas, in the early hours of Oct. 26, 2001, when she struck
37-year-old Gregory Biggs. The homeless man's upper torso smashed
through her windshield. What happened next is almost unbelievable.
Except that Mallard admits to it. With Biggs still embedded in the
windshield, she continued to drive to her Fort Worth home and parked her
1997 Chevrolet Cavalier in her garage. According to police and Mallard's
confession, she periodically checked on Biggs, who remained stuck in the
windshield, alive and moaning in pain. Mallard said she apologized to
Biggs during the visits, but never made an effort to extract him. Nor
did she contact police or summon medical help."
The film's screenplay is not meant as a docudrama. The cinematic
version includes plenty of fictional embellishments and a completely
different ending, but none of the fictional elements are as strange as the
reality you read about in the preceding paragraph.
Director Stuart Gordon and screenwriter John Strysik did a remarkable
job of taking that basic story and showing how such a thing might possibly
happen, given a recipe that takes the right ingredients from the range of
human behavior and mixes them in the right combination. Selfishness,
extreme intoxication, panic, and ignorance form a powerful concoction.
I am impressed by this film. On the one hand, it manages to be a
legitimate drama, a powerful morality play about a real case of extreme
human behavior. On the other hand, it draws on the sleaziest elements of
genre films and exploitation cinema to make an exciting tabloid story
filled with plot twists and dramatic tension in scene after scene. Because
of the economical screenplay and efficient direction, the film never lost
me for a minute. What are those sleazy elements? From the world of horror
films, there are the severe injuries to the homeless man and there is
plenty of gallows humor. From the Tarantino-inspired world of the cavalier
black comedy, there are heartless actions which leave us wondering whether
to laugh or cry, and there is gangsta rap blaring out its ugly themes.
From the world of erotic thrillers, there is gallows lust. The best thing
about those lurid elements is that they really don't seem trashy in
context. Every punch is completely appropriate, even necessary, to deliver
the knock-out. For example, the main sex scene takes place in the bedroom
of the driver's house while the victim is still struggling for life,
pinned inside the windshield of the car in the nearby garage. The scene
carries a tremendous emotional punch. The driver is ignoring the man's
plight even while she is racked with guilt. She screams every time she
pictures the homeless man going through her car window, while her
oblivious partner pumps madly away and mistakes her screams for lust.
Perhaps best of all, the writer managed to come up with an ending for
the film that is both satisfying and completely appropriate - and if you
think about it for a bit, you'll realize that was no easy task.
Stuck is essentially a straight-to-vid because it grossed only $67,000
and never reached more than 16 theaters. That's a shame because it is
original enough, profound enough, and accomplished enough to have earned a
decent theatrical run. Although it is a film which very effectively
combines the visceral and the psychological and was a crowd-pleaser at
some genre festivals, I can understand why distributors were loath to take
a chance on such a dark movie, but I can also understand why it is rated 8.2 at IMDb, an incredible 8.6 from the top 1000 voters,
a tough crowd which gives the exact same 8.6 grade to The Godfather!
OK, maybe it isn't the Godfather, but it is the rare genre film which
entertains and also has something worthwhile to say. I'd put it up there
in the same league as "A History of Violence."