***/**** Image B Sound A Extras B-
starring Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby, Rukiya Bernard
screenplay by John Strysik
directed by Stuart Gordon
by Walter Chaw Stuart Gordon, the man who gave us the Lovecraftian splatter film, has, lately, gone in for non-supernatural frights: first with the snake-infested well of man's self-interest in the irresistibly pulpy King of the Ants; then with his superb Mamet adaptation Edmund; and now with his inspired-by-a-true-story drive-in high-concept flick Stuck. The transition from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to the mendacity of mere humanity is less a leap in that Gordon to me has always been best when dealing with how the mundane is often just the thin candy shell over the boiling mess of our fetid Id--whether that Id manifests as the cellar of elder gods or, just as unspeakable, the lizard brain for which Lovecraft's bogeys are the metaphor, anyway. Stuck takes as its inspiration the story of 25-year-old nurse's aid Chante Mallard, who, one night flying high on alcohol and X, embedded one Gregory Biggs in her windshield and left him to die there over the course of two days. Gordon's film wonders what would've happened should Biggs have survived and, over the course of those same two days, gathered enough wits and strength to exact some measure of justice on his torturer. A delicious conceit, free of irony and post-modern self-awareness, it's funny without being snarky about it, delighting in the solipsistic desire of his Mallard, nursing home aide Brandi (Mena Suvari, dirtying up better here than in Spun), to not jeopardize a pending job promotion by reporting that guy stuck in her windshield. The guy, Tom (Stephen Rea), has fallen on hard times himself; if anything, Stuck is a diary of the modern malady of what happens when people can't make a living doing honest work and so find themselves stripped of dignity (sometimes literally) and exiled from civilization.