There’s a basic assumption in all horror movies that what is happening onscreen can’t really happen off it. This is why they’re not very scary. The people are too stupid to be real, the blood too much like ketchup, the monsters or bad guys exist without reason or motivation, and often come from another planet, another dimension, or another time. Generally the more a movie approaches believability – the more a bad guy seems like he could live next door, the more the heroine seems smart and real – the scarier the movie. Hence it also follows that the less gory the movie, the more real, and therefore scarier, it will seem. But what if one could make a horror movie that was just as gory as Freddy Krueger’s dreams, involved people just as ridiculous and implausible as Neve Campbell, and yet was based on a true story? That movie would be “Stuck,” and would belong in a category of its own.
October 26, 2001. On her way home from a party, Chante Jawan Mallard struck Gregory Biggs with her car, and he became lodged in her windshield. She drove home, parked the car in the garage, and did not call 911, notify the police, call an ambulance, or do any of the things normal people would do. Instead, she went inside and had sex with her boyfriend. Biggs died a few hours later, and Mallard, with the help of her boyfriend, disposed of the body in a park.
Though the names have been changed to protect the guilty (and the dead,) Mena Suvari plays Mallard, and Stephen Rea is Biggs. The ending’s been changed, too, as I’m sure have plenty of details. This is a movie, after all. What isn’t changed is the sense of shock, horror and perverse comedy you experienced when you read the above paragraph, or when you first heard about this case (it’s been made into episodes of both CSI and Law & Order before it got the full cinematic treatment.) Can these things really be happening? Yes, they can. In the world you live in. Right now.
“Stuck” plays like the best of B-horror from years past – short and to the point, without any frills or artsy pretension. In an age when all B-movies must have some kind of subtext to survive at all (and thus, ironically, must be deeper and more thoughtful that most A movies) director Stuart Gordon follows all the rules of B-movie horror, never straying an inch from the formula, and the subtext is exactly how genre-conventional this is – and yet it actually happened. It’s a case of life imitating art so faithfully that the only way for art to return the favor is, well, to be art.
And if that last sentence didn’t make any sense to you, well, then hear this: “Stuck” is a good little horror movie. It’s quick and dirty, it’s grisly and tense, it’s funny and campy and strange. It doesn’t waste time or energy on…well, anything. If you’re a fan of this kind of thing, if you’re not concerned about subtext or irony or social commentary, if you just want to see blood, broken bones, and skull-crushing hammer blows, this is your movie. “Stuck” delivers.
It’s tempting to wax philosophical – or theological – about the world we live in, the cruelty of man against man, and so on. But I like how “Stuck” refuses to comment on itself, and so I’ll follow suit. Except for saying this: sometimes life resembles – no, absolutely mirrors – cheap and bad horror flicks. Think about that for a while.
This, really, is the kind of movie guys like Tarantino and Rodriguez keep trying to re-create or pay tribute to, and yet it stands vigorously on its own two feet. “Stuck” is a small, nasty wonder.
- if you’ve had a bad day, and want to know there’s someone out there who’s had a worse one.
- To fans of b-movie horror.
- To anyone looking for future cult classics. This is destined for notoriety.
- if your friend tell you that you have a “wicked” sense of humor.
- To terminal optimists.
- To anyone squeamish about blood, bones, etc.
- If you’d rather not think about how far we’ve fallen, etc.
“Stuck” will be released on DVD today, October 14, 2008.
Also released on DVD today: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.