As is customary at TADFF, Saturday was Zombie Appreciation Night, which meant that the day’s programming consisted of two zombie-related films along with the International shorts program. Though I think zombies are by and large a bit played out, I still look forward to the night every year at the festival because they tend to choose interesting films that I might never have gotten to see in the theater otherwise.
The evening opened with a short called Montreal Zombie, which should give you a great idea of what it’s about. Essentially, three French-Canadian guys are holed up in an apartment, and one of them is filming their day-to-day interactions with what appears to be an old VHS camcorder. The film was actually very funny, with lots of outlandish humor, and the filmmakers did a lot with the very little they had to work with. This may be my favorite Canadian short of the festival so far. If you can find it, I highly recommend it.
Next up was the UK import Stalled, which centers on a maintenance man at an office Christmas party who gets trapped in a stall in the women’s bathroom. I hadn’t heard the greatest of things about the film before seeing it, but it certainly wasn’t the terrible experience that some had been saying. It did have it’s problems – such as the most pointless (and longest) post-credits stinger that I’ve ever seen) – but Director Christian James and company made the most of their restricted setting, and while there weren’t any real surprises, the movie had some decent laughs and kept my attention. Honestly, this is a huge credit to writer/star Dan Palmer, who is in pretty much every frame of the film’s 84-minute runtime and carries the movie with his solid performance. Plus, any movie with a midget zombie in an elf costume has to be worth watching, right? If you don’t go in listening to the obvious Shaun Of The Dead comparisons, then Stalled is worth at least one watch. The trailer is below. You can read TLD writer Eric King’s review here.
Next was the night’s second short, Just Ella. The short, from filmmaker Jim Munroe, appears to have been made as part of a competition entitled the Lo-Fi Sci-Fi Competition, and that should give you an idea of the limited timeframe and budget that the filmmakers were working with. The film tells a quiet tale of a girl in a post monster-invasion future who travels from safehouse to safehouse with her sister. It’s very atmospheric, and certainly worth your time, if you can find it.
However, the best film of the night was most definitely The Battery, Director Jeremy Gardener’s tale of two baseball players trying to survive in a world after the zombie outbreak wipes out the majority of the population. Made for just about $6,000, the movie is very minimalistic, but that’s exactly what makes it work so well. It really does pull you into the pair’s day-to-day lives in a way that no other zombie film I’ve seen has done. And that’s the magic of it all. The movie is about the people; not the zombies. Not only do the performances work very well, but there are some amazing long takes; one of which, toward the end, had me squirming in my seat due to the palpable tension. And the soundtrack is wonderful as well. Do yourself a huge favor and check out the film. TLD writer Eric King also enjoyed it a lot, and you can check out his full review here. The Battery is currently available for digital rental at just $4 and you can purchase the film for only $6 on Amazon.