Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Bumper Body: Hit and Run (2009)

Hit and Run (2009)
Rating: ***
Starring: Laura Breckenridge, Kevin Corrigan, Christopher Shand 

On October 26, 2001, former nurse aide Chante Jawan Mallard struck a homeless man named Gregory Glenn Biggs with her car while driving under the influence, lodging him into the windshield and leaving him there to die a day or two later. Mallard was eventually convicted for the crime and sentenced to 50 years imprisonment for the wrongful death. 

This story would later inspire late director Stuart Gordon to produce and direct Stuck, a 2007 horror thriller that mostly follows the events of the crime albeit with a few minor changes, a darkly comic tone and a happier ending. Stuck (2007) would become a mini cult hit of sorts, even spawning a Bollywood clone in 2009 with Accident on Hill Road, but not a lot of people would know about the other movie that roughly took inspiration from this crime, 2009 's Hit and Run.

Mary Murdock (Laura Breckenridge) was just leaving a New Jersey night club when she hits a bad bump on a dark isolated road while driving home drunk. She wouldn't notice what's wrong about this incident until some time after settling back in her house; it turn out that, in her absolute horror, the bump was actually a man and he's now stuck mangled and impaled on her jeep's bumper. Panicking, Mary overlooks calling 911 and tries fixing the situation on her own, but when the man suddenly attacks her, she seemingly ends up killing him for good with a golf club.

Now burdened with a body, Mary drives out again that night. This time to a nearby forest clearing to bury the man in a shallow grave, wishing nothing more than to forget this nightmare. Unbeknownst to her, the nightmare isn't over. In fact, it just began...

Comparing this to Gordon's Stuck which used the Biggs case as the basis of its story, Hit and Run (2009) is, instead, inspired by it, crafting a more original plot with standardized horror tones, down to the annoying cliche of characters with bad decision making. On that term, it's mostly a situational breakdown of our lead's descent into paranoia as the guilt of her crime starts eating her up, something which actress Laura Breckenridge did fairly with her Brooke character given she doesn't get too overexposed; she's good horror flick eye candy and, frankly, has her moments that aren't outright terrible, but the more the movie dwells into her character's fall into madness and irrationality, the more she hits those off-key acting notes and it can get distracting.

Breckenridge pretty much carries a big bulk of the film this way, getting terrified and discomforted by anything from cryptic pet parrots to TV news segments, until that is the third act happens and gets greatly dominated by TV star Kevin Corrigan as Timothy Emser, the vengeful victim of Mary's vehicular incident. It's around this part that the film sheds away the psychological mind games and heads forth as a road raging slasher albeit bodycount minuscule and gore is near absent. What it does to make up for the splatter shortcomings would be the outrageous set-piece of Emser taking revenge on Brooke, strapping her to the jeep's hood with Christmas lights and taking her out on the road the same way she unknowingly did to him. 

Characterization for our villain is quite shallow, however; playing the Hollywood mental illness card to give him the excuse to go murder-psycho on anyone that crosses his path, including a random gas station attendant and his own wife, the latter he suspected to be plotting against him. The only memorable thing about him would be the crazy amount of make-up used to get that mangled zombie-esque look. It's a cheap trick, but it works for what it's worth. 

Looking at it, imagining why this movie didn't catch on isn't hard. The meandering atmosphere for the psychological first act is largely so-so, nearing tiresome for those who doesn't have the stomach and patience for it. Nothing that memorable save for some good acting and an attractive cast, but once Emser appears in his full zombie non-zombie maniacal glory, Hit and Run (2009) packs a mean punch almost immediately, all the way to the chaotic last quarrel and ambiguous final shot. It's an okay watch, especially if you've got nothing else to rent and you're in the mood for something light yet still red. I say give it a go and watch out for homicidal speed bumps!

1 male murdered, body found buried in a shallow grave
1 male force fed petrol, poisoned
1 female stabbed to death with garden shears
1 male ran over with a jeep (?)
Total: 4 (?)
...Why? How?

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