There is the real-life case of Chante Mallard, a Fort Worth woman who hit a man on the way home from a night of drinking, whom she left lodged in her windshield overnight. Some of you should remember this as the the basis for Stuart Gordon's Stuck. Hit and Run isn't directly based on the event, just inspired by it, and while I'm sure Gordon's film deals with themes of guilt and remorse, and questions whether an inability to act is the same as purposefully hurting someone, Mary Murdock (Laura Breckinridge) simply pries Timothy Esner (Kevin Corrigan) off the front of her Jeep, clubs him to death with a golf club when he tries to grab her, and dumps him in a shallow, muddy grave in the middle of the nearby woods.
Breckinridge is forced to carry most of this low-budget feature solo, and she's not quite up to the challenge. She's easy on the eyes and rarely outright terrible, but she hits a handful of off-key notes as her character drifts into paranoia. First-time director Enda McCallion has a couple of inspired directorial tricks up his sleeve, but the movie is plagued with passages that are confusingly shot or clumsily edited, either because the director's ambition outweighs the capabilities of the crew and equipment, or because there wasn't enough footage to work with. McCallion also steals a couple touches: the Jaws theme plays in a scene, which feels disingenuous even if it's intended as an homage, while Mary's pill-popping sequences stink of Requiem For a Dream. Bad computer graphics rear their head a couple of times, and the song choices are strictly random (Breckinridge awkwardly sings about half of Modest Mouse's "Float On" over the opening credits).
Upon learning through the TV news that the man she hit was a kindergarten teacher recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Mary confesses the deed to her boyfriend Rick (Christopher Shand). Rick seems relatively unfazed by the news, but then again, he's got alcohol (he seems more perturbed that his girlfriend is too upset by the incident to put out). He doesn't stay, and Mary is alone again. I started to wonder where the movie was going. McCallion uses elements in her house to increase her discomfort, such as a burnt-out lightbulb, a grating radio program, and best of all, parrots, but I wasn't sure it could sustain for the remaining 40 minutes.
Then, out of nowhere, the film takes a sharp turn into the surreal. I chose this DVD because Kevin Corrigan was in it, a name I recognized, and although his participation is relegated to the movie's second half, it's pretty out there. Sporting bad teeth and weird contacts (the un-altered Corrigan only appears in a single shot, other than a photograph), he raises the movie from a so-so thriller to a potentially unintentional slasher gag-fest. Personally, I'd guess it's on purpose: the movie's meandering tone (as if the events are being improvised by the actors on the spot) disappears almost immediately once Corrigan appears and starts wreaking havoc.
It's always fun to be surprised by a movie, and I was certainly surprised. As the movie wound down, I was convinced that the movie was going to cop out with some sort of It Was All A Dream ending, or worse. While the denouement isn't the most satisfying part of the movie (again thanks to Breckinridge's hit-or-miss performance), it didn't let me down, either, and I commend the makers of Hit and Run for making this movie...whether it was their goal or not.