Stuck (Gordon, 2008)

Stuart Gordon is no stranger to demented scenarios. Over twenty years ago, Gordon burst onto the horror scene with Re-Animator, an incredibly brutal and hilariously original take on the zombie sub-genre. But his latest directing effort Stuck, takes demented to a whole new level. Gordon once again delves into the realm of the living dead, only not so literally with a clash of living individuals pushed to the fringes of society through economic direst, slowly regenerating into lifeless, and sometimes soulless individuals under the panic of impending failure. The film’s mesmerizing centerpiece, it’s core visual motif and thematic sledgehammer, is that of newly homeless drifter Thomas (Stephen Rea) permanently implanted in nursing home attendant Brandi’s (Mena Suvari) windshield after a violent hit-and-run accident. Gordon uses this symbolic wedge not only as a dynamic image of horror, but to reveal the more subtle nuances of these characters. At first, Brandi’s desperation toward her bloody mess seems like a plot point. But as her deceit and brutality evolve, so does our impression of her plight. Brandi feels as if any negative shift in her life will cause an unravelling that cannot be stopped, which gets specifically at the core her own self-doubt and of American culpability in general. Whether its an economic crisis caused by greedy banks, an immoral war waged in the name of faith, or a devastating chance occurrence, all are failures defined by a lack of self-accountability, a common thread in our current global landscape. Throughout the film, Brandi pleads that the accident “wasn’t her fault”, and she ends up being consumed by a lack of reasonable perspective. Stuck, while never gratuitous, is a fascinating and relentless horror film about our current state of obsessed individualism, where selfish inaction often supersedes the realistic and deadly consequences of ignoring others in need.

Edmond (Gordon, 2005)

A true stinker. Edmond, written by the usually dependable David Mamet and directed by Re-Aninmator mastermind Stuart Gordon, tells the story of a disgruntled middle age white businessman (William H. Macy) and his decent into madness. His main reason; bored with his life. Edmond feels like Falling Down on mescaline, the pacing and rhythm toned down to an almost droll standstill. Filled with whiney diatribes attempting to reveal the true nature of white fear in regards to race, sexuality, and class, Edmond is whishy washy at best. No tension, no edgy style, blatantly wordy stabs at importance. We see Edmond’s impotent attempt to regain excitement, a flicker of light in his life, long ago extinguished by corporate responsibility and suburban mentalities. The final sequence stands alone in terms of merit, Edmond finally realizing his own loss of control and inability to dictate life on his own terms, but far too late in the process to save such a pretenious example of art imitating life imitating crap.