DVD review: Stuck

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Starring Stephen Rea and Mena Suvari.

This year was shaping up to be the worst one for horror in decades. The last decent fright flick to grace theatres was 2007’s The Orphanage, a Spanish production; since then, Hollywood dreck like Prom Night, One Missed Call, Shutter, and The Eye have wreaked untold damage on the genre.

Finally, though, horror fans have reason to rejoice again. Stuck is a character-driven, low-budget surprise that leaps out of nowhere—Saint John, New Brunswick, actually—and grabs your attention like an ice pick to the eye.

In a bravura performance destined to win him at least a Fangoria Chainsaw Award if not another Oscar nomination, The Crying Game’s sad-faced Stephen Rea portrays the luckless, out of work Tom. In the course of one very bad day, he’s kicked out of his squalid apartment, spurned at the employment office, and forced to spend the night on a park bench—until a heartless cop prods him along.

While roaming the streets in search of shelter, he gets struck by, and attached to, a speeding car. The impaired operator refuses to stop, setting off Stuck’s engrossing study of psychotic indifference and selfishness.

Mena Suvari is magnetic as ruthless hit-and-run driver Brandi, who’s more concerned about her potential promotion at a nursing home than she is in helping out the blood-soaked sap embedded in her windshield. Realistic portrayals by Russell Hornsby as Brandi’s pill-pushing, wannabe-gangsta boyfriend, Rashid, and Rukiya Bernard as her impulsive coworker and friend Tanya bring a sense of authenticity to the outrageous goings-on, and also result in the film’s funniest moments.

Director Stuart Gordon, best known for helming mid-’80s gore epics like Re-Animator and From Beyond, deftly handles the absorbing mix of suspense, pitch-black humour, and gruesome suffering, which is shot through with heavy doses of social criticism. Stuck is not only the most entertaining horror flick to hit North American theatres this year, it’s arguably the top Canadian shocker of all time. Try not to think about how it was inspired by actual events.

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