Stalled (2013)

Plot Overview

On Christmas Eve, a janitor becomes trapped in the women’s bathroom at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

Review

I will begin by saying that this was more or less my most anticipated film for FrightFest. Zombies are my favourite thing ever and I love limited location films. My entire experience rested on me 1) getting a ticket and 2) it being awesome. I refused to miss out on getting a ticket, so had 3 hours sleep and lined up for 2.5 hours in the rain to get my ticket. And it was totally worth it.

As much as I love ‘limited location’ films, the concept is often used as a hook and forgotten about. Not so in this case. They fully utilise the bathroom location and even just the cubicle itself. Director Christian James does an effective job of keeping it fully within the confines of Dan Palmer’s character’s ‘vision’ and so there are no unnecessary scenes and makes us feel like we are trapped in that cubicle too.

We basically follow only one character the entire film and Dan Palmer is a very effective lead. He is a flawed, but likable character. Palmer himself plays to his strengths and is just hilarious. The dancing scene in particular was a favourite of mine as well as Palmer crying out “There’s zombies in your toilet!”. A secondary character is brought in – who we never see – and although she is well-written and has some good lines, she often feels a little too distant, occasionally forced. This might be especially jarring as she is playing against Palmer, who is much more natural.

Summary

The best types of zombie films are ones that focus on the characters, rather than the zombies. Whilst this was not a ‘deep’, psychological character drama, it is more character and scenario based which is why it works so well. The gore is quite good and is used sparingly and effectively. Although it was very funny, there were a couple of things that were a little too silly for me, but overall it was pretty awesome. Despite zombies being my favourite sub-genre, it has been a very stale genre lately and this felt totally fresh.

The Q&A at FrightFest was great as well. Dan and Christian started talking over the credits before remembering there was a short scene after the credits, and they did a little jig to the side saying “this is embarrassing”. They then gave us an hilarious running commentary; the producers wanted two extra minutes running time, so they added this scene onto the end – which they hated – so dragged it out as long as possible “we are shameless” that had the entire audience cracking up. The only film of the festival which I feel like I instantly must watch again, so I now anxiously await a DVD release.

After now having gone to three screenings, I love it even more than the first time. Here’s me with Christian and Dan, and I also got a bloody hat prop.

Rating: 9/10

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