A lively and responsive audience attended the screening of Stuart Gordon's latest horror flick, Stuck, late Saturday night at the Orpheum.
Gordon himself introduced the film, along with Wisconsin Film Festival director Meg Hamel. He drew applause as he talked about seeing revolutionary films like The Graduate and Bonnie and Clyde at the Orpheum in the late '60s. He considers the iconic theater on State Street his early classroom, a place that influenced him to start creating films.
Forty years later, Gordon has become the teacher, bringing gory, outrageous Stuck to his erstwhile classroom to shock and entertain a new group of students.
The film is based on the unbelievable true story of Chante Jawan Mallard, a nurse's aide who hit a homeless man with her car, lodging him in the windshield. Instead of seeking help, she drove home and parked in her garage, leaving him stuck in the windshield to slowly bleed to death.
The first half of the film is consistent with that story, but the second half takes creative liberties. The victim, Tom (Michael Rea), fueled by rage and survival instincts, attempts an incredible, superhero-like escape. The perpetrator, Brandi (Mena Suvari), becomes increasingly panicked and irrational, repeatedly asking Tom why he is victimizing her and why he won't go away. This humorous and violent cat and mouse-like power struggle between Tom and Brandi propels the film.
At the Orpheum on Saturday, the audience quickly became invested in the fight, vocally supporting Tom. It certainly wasn't hard to cheer for him as he seemed to continually come back from the brink of death, only to face new obstacles. Nor was it hard to share in his pain as we witnessed graphic, bloody depictions of his injuries. For me, the film sure gave new meaning to the expression "squirm in your seat."