Dir: Stuart Gordon
Star: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby, Rukiya Bernard

If not quite in the same line as Gordon's more famous work, there's no denying this still fits into the horror genre, albeit horror generated from the human spirit, or lack thereof. On her way home from a night of clubbing and severely under the influence, Brandi (Suvari) barrels into Tom Bardo (Rea), an unemployed man who had been made homeless earlier that day. The impact leaves Tom embedded in the windscreen of Brandi's car. Fearing the consequences of being caught DUI - she was celebrating a potential promotion at her job - she flees the scene and parks in her garage, while she decides what to do. In the cold light of morning, things aren't any better, not least because the victim is still alive and is begging for help. She enlists the help of her self-proclaimed gangsta boyfriend (Hornsby) to take care of the problem and dispose of Bardo, but things go from bad to worse. Oh, it's based on a true story from 2001: in Texas, Chante Jawan Mallard basically did the same thing: she got caught after bragging about it at a party, and is now doing 50 years in jail.

That's not a spoiler, as the film goes a different direction, with Tom trying to free himself, first from his bug-like position, and then from the garage, with matters being complicated by his injuries which include both a broken leg and impalement on a windscreen-wiper. Given Rea doesn't have much to do after the accident, except scream in pain and beg for help, he's effective and sympathetic in his role. However, it's Suvari who has to carry the movie and manages to be surprisingly sympathetic. She's a nurse and a good one too - about the first thing we see her do is washing excrement off an elderly patient who has fouled the bed. What we see here is a study in the consequences of a series of bad decisions: each one making sense at the time, but combining into a nasty depiction of our uncaring society, continuing the cynicism shown by Gordon in Edmond. There may be no decapitated heads performing oral sex on bubble-headed coeds here, yet the monsters shown here are probably even more disturbing, for they are us...

[October 2009]

Tom Bardo is a bit
of a fly-by-night
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