Director – Stuart Gordon
Cast – Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russel Hornsby, Rukiya Bernard, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This film is the latest directoral effort from Stuart Gordon, who brought us the infamous Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak, and Dagon(to name a few). This film derives highly from a shocking event taking on October 26, 2001, receiving lots of mainstream news coverage and had many Americans thinking “Seriously???” (the news coverage did not begin until early 2002, when the details of the accident were discovered) What happened was a 25 year old woman named Chante Mallard was driving under the influence, hit a man, and actually DROVE HOME with the man still stuck in her windshield and still very much alive. She left the poor man in the garage, had sex with her boyfriend, and the next day her and some friends take his now dead body to a park and left it there. Chante Mallard was convicted of murder and sentenced to 50 years for the crime, plus 10 years to run concurrently for tampering with evidence(trying to burn her car).
Anywho, Stuart Gordon quickly jumped on the story and turned it into a full length feature-film, joining the likes of TV shows CSI and Law & Order whom also adapted the story to the screen. This film follows Thomas Bardo(Stephen Rea) as a man going through some hard times. A former project manager, he is jobless, out of unemployment money, and just recently evicted from his apartment. New to the streets, he is wandering around late at night looking for a place to stay when he is struck by a young girl(Mena Suvari) who is doped up, drunk, and ON A CELL PHONE. The young girl is a nurse with a bright future ahead of her. She is up for a promotion and is not going to let anyone ruin that, no matter how hard they bust through her windshield.
Although I already knew much about the Chante Mallard fiasco, I was still very interested in this film and was curios to see how Stuart Gordon would adapt it to film. As a fan of Re-Animator and From Beyond, I figured this film would at least come out decent, and well…it did. I really expected more from this film, but in the end I really did not feel like I had viewed anything special. My biggest knock against the film would be the characters. Mr. Gordon did a pretty decent job building up the Thomas Bardo character, showing us a bit of the frustration he must go through and how his life went from pretty good, to pretty bad. However I do not feel that we were given enough background on Bardo to force us to really feel and care for him. Not once was there any mention of family, we never know if he was previously married, if he has kids, or if he was ever married at all! The reason this bugged me is because it seems the film is set for us to feel really bad for him, and I did feel bad, however ultimately he did not have much to live for, or much to lose. That is probably the case for the real life story, due to the fact that the man Chante Mallard killed was in fact a homeless man, however this is a FILM and if I wanted an exact rundown of what happened I would simply Google the story, simple as that.
Continuing with the film’s characters…Mena Suvari’s character came off bitchy, and narcissistic, which I’m sure was required of her in order to paint the type of person Chante Mallard was. However I do have to ask…was director Stuart Gordon afraid to use an African American actress as the girl who hit the homeless man? Why do I ask? Well…for one, the woman this story is based on is in fact African American. I was thinking that maybe Mr. Gordon was afraid he would be labeled a racist if he did that although it would have made the story a lot more factual. Truth is truth my friend…the lady was African American, deal with it. We’ve seen this happen before with directors…such as the lashing Mel Gibson got from Jewish activists for his film The Passion of the Christ, which had Jews killing Jesus which in fact THEY DID DO! Anywho, I do feel that Mr. Gordon was directly hinting at the fact that the woman who hit the man was African American. First off, Mena Suvari, who is WHITE, has braided cornrows, an African American boyfriend, and African American best friend. Could it not be anymore obvious? It seems that either Mr. Gordon was afraid of the backlash he would get, or he really admires Mena Suvari. Yes I said it, someone might actually admire Mena Suvari.
Is this a bad film? No, not really, it just could have been a lot better had the character development not been so lazy. The film does actually give us some pretty hard scenes to watch, involving Mr. Bardo trying to get out of the windshield and having to pull a piece of a windshield wiper out of his stomach. OUCH! The film actually did pace really well, and I never truly found myself bored with the film. There were some unneeded scenes here and there, but they were somewhat entertaining and did not slow down the film at all. My favorite aspect of the film would have to be the film’s ending sequence. It was better than I expected the film to end, and as you may have guessed…this film does not end the way the actual story ends, although I believe it ends the way the actual story SHOULD have ended! Hehe.
Overall, this is a decent watch that I recommend you seeing if you know about the story it is based off of. Don’t expect it to be amazing, but you may in fact enjoy it more than I did.