Starring: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, Tamaryn Payne
Writer: Dan Palmer
Director: Christian James
It’s Christmas eve and a soon to be shit-canned maintenance man is changing light bulbs and cleaning toilets, instead of drinking eggnog and making out with drunk receptionists at the annual office party.
Unfortunately for this forlorn floor-sweeper he chooses to use the ladies restroom the very second a zombie outbreak occurs! Will he bowl us over and flush away the undead or simply remain… Stalled?
He’s in the perfect place to be scared shitless.
Zombies, zombies, zombies! They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, folks, so it’s best to get used to ‘em! If you’re tired of the more by-the-basics undead type flicks, there’s plenty of indie filmmakers out there trying to do different things within the sub-genre. Stalled comes to us from the dudes behind Freak Out. The premise is crazy simple- janitor gets stuck in a bathroom stall at an office Christmas party, when a zombie outbreak occurs. That’s it. As a full length picture, this could either end up being boring as hell or quite unique. While I will admit that there are a few pacing issues here and there, ultimately I was pleasantly surprised with this. I enjoy when a film can use a really claustrophobic setting but somehow still make the story exciting, and actor/writer Dan Palmer does just that.
The movie is largely laced with comedy, but there’s plenty of horror to provide a good level of intensity. What’s most admirable is how funny the film can be at times and its ability to cut straight away from that to something more bleak. It’s really all over the place. If the idea of a guy trapped in a stall for an entire movie doesn’t sound all that appealing to you, don’t worry; there’s situations throughout where the lead comes up with ideas for an escape. So, yes, he is largely in one very small setting, but there’s enough other stuff going on. For one, just beyond the door of the stall is an uncountable horde of very hungry undead, not to mention an unknown female sits two stalls over and keeps him company, more or less.
Dan Palmer does a fantastic job as an actor working solely off of himself for a good period of time. True, there’s plenty of interaction with zombies, but there’s an equal balance of sole performing, with merely a cell phone, or a toilet bowl. Eventually, another character comes into the story. Not in view, but as a voice. In a strange way, this put me in mind of Die Hard, with how John McClane and Sgt. Powell interact with one another. Tonally, it’s a very different deal we got going on here, though. The Janitor and the voice have some great moments of hilarity, as well as plenty of heartfelt conversations, too. But again, I can’t really stress how fun Palmer is purely on his own. His body language really sells it.
Other than a few shoddy moments of bad CGI, the special effects of Stalled are very on point. It’s gets pretty damn gory, and there’s a few things here that felt really refreshing. Wounds and flesh devouring aren’t shy to show their face, and I gotta give credit to the FX crew for the zombie makeup. I don’t wanna give a whole lot away, but for such a small setting, they throw all kinds of various undead into the mix.
Pretty much in the same way as The Battery, though, both are very different from each other, Stalled impressed me by taking a sub-genre I love and running with it. It’s wildly apparent that director Christian James and writer/actor Dan Palmer enjoy what they do. Be on the look out for this one, friends. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun and worth your time.
– Eric (Brobocop)