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Brandi is a hard-partying, overworked, nursing assistant desperate for a promotion at the retirement home where she works. After a night of drug-binging and partying, she accidentally hits a certain Thomas Bardo a deadbeat and recently evicted man who gets stuck in the windshield of her car. Not wanting to call for help since she is driving under the influence, Brandi, chooses not to get Thomas medical help and instead drives home and leaves him clinging to his life in the windshield of her car. While Brandi frantically tries to decide what she is going to do, Thomas, tries to free himself knowing his time is running out. Written by
9/16/2008 Addendum: IMPORTANT! This review applies ONLY to the 94-minute FESTIVAL cut of this film. I see that the DVD version is only 85 minutes ... do NOT buy or rent it based on this review.
* * * *
It's movies like this one that will keep me going to the 'Midnight Madness' program of the Toronto Film Festival forever. I saw it at last year's, and have been looking forward to a repeat viewing ever since. I love it when a low-budget film can soar above the corporate mega-movies on a clever script and a cast that gives it 110%, and this is definitely one of those movies. It gave me everything I could want in such a film sex, drugs, and violence, with some jet-black humor for dessert. (Note to PG-13ers: AVOID!) It probably won't make a big splash when it's released theatrically, but I'd put money on it achieving cult status after coming out on video.
This is easily the best work that director Stuart Gordon has done since REANIMATOR I'd go so far as to say that it's his best ever. It's a suspense-horror-comedy full of situations that make you laugh and groan at the same time one that's also refreshingly NOT top-heavy with f/x. The Midnight Madness program has a firm policy that a film has to grab your attention within the first 15 minutes in order to qualify for inclusion, and this film meets that requirement with room to spare. What's more, it never drags for a minute.
The story is based on the bizarre true life tale of a woman who hit a homeless man with her car and let him slowly bleed to death while stuck in her windshield. Gordon calls this "the way the story should have turned out." The homeless man in this case is played by the reliable Steven Rea, whose sad eyes give him a head start on eliciting sympathy. He's newly homeless, and his fall to the bottom is cleverly punctuated by him repeatedly hearing a timeworn cliché uttered by a succession of unsympathetic characters. The woman is played by American BEAUTY's Mena Survari, and this is her richest role since that one. She finally gets to play a character who actually evolves over the course of a film, instead of just doing 9-5 duty in another eye candy role.
I can't overemphasize how impressive the bang for the buck that Gordon gets with this film is. He also makes an amusing Hitchcock-style cameo (one that I'll bet Hitch himself wouldn't have minded making). There was genuinely enthusiastic applause at the screening I went to when the movie ended and the cast (except for Rea) came on for a lively Q & A. If movies lately seem a bit too tame for you, this is very likely just what the doctor ordered.
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