Stir” is a derivative and tiresome drama that adopts every cliche formula in the psychological mystery genre. An unfocused tale about a mother and her psychic son who attempt to find closure after the scientist father is mysteriously killed, pic contains so many holes and inconsistencies that the storyline becomes difficult to follow after the first reel. Low-budget production values and unoriginal concept will generate little theatrical appeal; more likely viewers will line up at the Traci Lords vid shelf.
Pic opens with a grainy shot of Venice Beach denizens hovering in front of the low-priced Waldorf Hotel, where honeymooners Joseph (Andrew Heckler) and Kelly Bekins (Lords) vow undying love to each other. Fast forward six years and Joseph is back in the same room with his secret chemical experiments. Having just discovered the cure to some deadly disease and having placed the formula on a computer disk, Joseph falls asleep, only to be mysteriously murdered by a masked man during the night. Several days later, Kelly and 6-year-old son Matt (Reno Wilson) visit the room in an attempt to find “closure” to their pain and loss.
Hanging around the hotel are a seemingly sleazy janitor, Bubba (Tony Todd), and a somber-looking businessman (played by director Rodion Nahapetov). Surprising Kelly and Matt is Joseph’s best friend, Michael (Daniel Roebuck), whose lust for the widow is obvious. But his efforts at seduction are thwarted by Matt’s dreams about his father’s last hours. In order to help the kid out, Michael recommends he see a psychiatrist (Karen Black), who turns out to be a player in an espionage ring.
Russian helmer Nahapetov makes no effort to uncover the details of the many conspiracies he presents, dragging the movie along at a snail’s pace through some ineffectual and poorly shot sequences. After a slow first hour, it is only during the final quarter, when the bad guys chase the good guys over rooftops and into abandoned buildings, that some movement occurs, however predictable and poorly choreographed.
Tech credits and performances are mediocre at best; Lords is unable to deliver the needed range as a grieving widow whose son is in danger. Darco Suvac’s camerawork is shaky, grainy and raw, adding an uncomfortable quality to an already unpleasant film.