Saturday, 13 December 2014

Holiday Horror: Stalled (2013)

Stalled (2013)
Director: Christian James
Starring: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, and  Tamaryn Payne
Running Time: 84 min

  What I seem to be noticing about horror holiday films lately is that anything really goes and even the weakest premises can be brought to life.  Recently I've seen a film about a killer snowman, some people trapped at an ATM and now a dude is trapped by zombies in a woman's washroom.  Which I guess is plausible but I refuse to use the word "fresh" when I am referring to describe an idea that involves a bathroom.  Anyway, let's get down to it.

There is a Christmas party going on and janitor, W.C. wanders into the ladies room with his toolbox.  Surprisingly, his toolbox is filled with money and there are no tools inside and when two ladies come into the bathroom, W.C. ducks into one of the stalls with his money leaden toolbox.  He listens to these two catty women complain about who got the most money in a charity date auction, a hot girl named Evie and about how they tricked there overweight co-worker Heather into believing she was going to have sex with the local office stud, Jeff from I.T.. 
  However as the conversation goes on, their cattiness seems to drift away into a strange drunken love thang and they start making out.  So, W.C. gets excited and pulls out to record the bathroom lovefest.  While they're making out, one of them notices a bite mark on the others neck and asks what happened.  The other says that the pizza guy was a perv and bite her.  Shortly after, the bitten girl turns into a zombie and attacks her catty co-worker. 
  W.C. tries to escape the bathroom but as soon as he opens the bathroom door, he lets more zombies stumble into the crowded bathroom.  W.C. runs to a stall and tries to barricade himself inside the best he can.  Fortunately, there is one other person trapped in the stalls with him, Evie, the really hot girl who won the most money for the charity.  Can the two of them escape this zombie infested restroom or will the get flushed down the tube of terror?

  This was actually a lot better than I expected and director Christian James (Freak Out) did a great job working within such a confined and limited premise and space.  Dan Palmer (Evil Aliens, Small Town Folk), who stars in this, also wrote the screenplay and gives the film enough bathroom humour and frights to keep the momentum up for the whole eighty-four minutes. 
  The main character W.C. is likeable enough but he's definitely not your hero type.  He never attains that goal but he does try and I think that is commendable for the film.  He is not brilliant but he is able to act on his feet and has a will to survive.  In the end, the character has been devloped well enough that he isn't just thinking about just himself anymore and he tries to help others out.  Most of the time.
   Also this film looks like it was done on a smaller budget but the zombie still look cool.  There are some very funny zombie scenes of them attacking people and some gross out stuff that is done really well.

  Some issues I had with the film was that the zombies, even though they looked good, didn't seem to be present all the time.  Sometimes, these were the quietest zombies ever especially when W.C. and Evie were dialoguing.  The zombies seemed a take a back seat in this conundrum and this took away from some of the scary at times.
  Also, I wasn't that crazy about the disembodied voice of Evie and I understand that it was leading to a reveal later in the film but it seemed strange that they never even tried to join each other in the same stall.  Again with all that yelling back and forth, you'd think that this would rile up the zombies but they just stumble outside the stalls most times without a care in the world.

  This isn't the new "Shaun of the Dead" like I've read some other the called it but it is a fun and witty outing that will probably surprise most people.  There are some cool looking zombies, an interesting story that develops and an ending that may be frustrating to some people watching but it is true to the character.  So, if you throw this on and watch some other people push out some horrifying grunts and groans during a Christmas party.

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