Stalled

ST1

When zombies overtake an office building on Christmas Eve, maintenance man W.C. gets trapped inside a bathroom stall with nowhere to go as more and more of the undead pile in, giving him no place left to go.

I don’t know how public restrooms are everywhere in the world, having only been a few places outside of the America, but here in the good ole US of A they are vile abominations full of a nastiness that can only be described as somewhere in between a London sewer system circa 1825 and Jabba the Hutt’s ass after a particularly hot day on Tatooine spent doing Zumba (whatever the fuck that is). I’m dead, there aren’t really any diseases that harm me (though zombie herpes is a bitch, and don’t even get me started on undead crabs, those bastards are vicious), and even I wouldn’t go into one of those hellholes. Seriously, you have not even begun to understand the meaning of vile until you have stepped into an American public restroom. I always imagine that there’s some dude that gets paid just to go around and spread the things that you find spread all over the walls, the toilets, the sinks, the windows, and sometimes even inside the soap dispensers…I have no idea how “Spread Awful Things Over Everything Man” manages to accomplish this feat of magic, but he somehow does. I often wonder if he’s the same man who writes the same three things on every bathroom stall. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries but when you step inside an American bathroom you will see three things (other than the filth that is), a poorly drawn swastika, because some people can only try and shock someone the way a twelve year old boy that’s been kicked in the head too many times would, the word fuck, capitalized of course, and “Call So and So at XXX-XXX-XXXX for a good time,” except the X’s will be an actual phone number, and no, I’ve never actually called any of these numbers to find out, mostly out of fear that the person on the other end of that number is wearing a gimp suit and sitting in the stall next to me. The point I’m trying to get across is this, whatever you do, not matter how bad the urge hits, under no circumstances should a public restroom anywhere in America ever be used. Trust me on this one, zombies trying to eat you would be the least of your worries.

Our bathroom flick begins with maintenance man W.C. needing to make some repairs inside of the woman’s restroom of a high class office building in the throes of debauchery that can only come from a drunken Christmas party. When the disposal of a dead rat makes him physically ill he retreats to one of the stalls to get sick, locking the door only when two scantily clad women enter and he doesn’t feel like being noticed. As the women talk one sees a rather nasty bite wound on the other, this somehow leads to a make out session between the two, open sores apparently being a huge turn on for them. Unfortunately, that bite soon turns her into a zombie and before things can get too hot and heavy, the bitten woman tears the throat out of her kissing buddy before coming after the now trapped W.C. After using a toilet seat in a way it was never meant to be used so he can fight off his attacker, W.C. is able to make a break for it but is chased right back into a stall by two zombies waiting outside the bathroom door. He fortifies his stall as best he can, using a rather strong no smoking sign, some screws, and some very conveniently placed drill holes, all the while the bathroom filling up with more and more zombies. His base now safe as it’s going to get, he passes out for a bit only to be awakened by a voice he assumes to be coming from a talking member of the living dead, not seeming surprised by this at all. The voice is actually that of another office worker, Heather, who was inside a different stall when W.C. first came in but chose to remain quiet rather than let him know she was in there, this leading to her being stuck inside the bathroom as well. As more and more zombies file into the bathroom the pair try their hardest to remain sane, but with time running out and escape seeming unlikely the most they may be able to do is enjoy each other’s company to the bitter end.

ST3

{This is why you should always have an escape route planned no matter the situation}

As often as humor is used as a distraction in zombie films these days you’d think I would have given up on the comedic zombie flick. I’ve seen far too many zombie movies, really just horror films in general, that put very little effort into their movie, but try and make it funny in the hopes that the viewer won’t notice how terrible the film is. Notice the word “try” because often times the humor is atrocious and not in the slightest bit funny, most of the time they simply come off as annoying more than anything else. The comedic zombie film has become so prevalent they even gave it a catchy title, ZomCom. Actually, no, that’s not catchy at all, it’s just fucking stupid, remind me to never use that word again will you. What title used to describe them isn’t important in the end though, what is important is the amount of times the comedy is used to hide what is otherwise a terrible flick. Thankfully, Stalled has the humor nailed down with some clever writing, great dialogue, and an interesting story that keeps the viewer engrossed in the film. The comedy is never over the top or slapstick in nature. There are some silly moments but they were handled in such a way that you were able to just laugh at them instead of groan, meaning they were silly but they weren’t dumb. Things like a potential hero felled by a stray dismembered finger, a very entertaining, drug induced dance sequence from W.C. that somehow made you like the guy even more, and one very pissed off former boss, among others. I found myself chuckling a good percentage of the movie, not outright dying of laughter you understand because the movie wasn’t meant to be a laugh riot, it was meant to be lightly humorous.

ST2

{No dance routine is complete without a Thriller reference}

I think one of the film’s greatest strengths was in the actors chosen to play both W.C. and Heather. Dan Palmer, who both played W.C. and wrote the story, does a terrific job. He had to since most of the film rests primarily on his shoulders. You do get to see a lot of zombie action, and there is Heather’s voice, but a primary chunk of the film is focused entirely on him, trapped and alone in his bathroom stall. He handled it perfectly, portraying the stress, isolation, and fear of the situation he was in, but still showing small rays of hope that maybe they might be able to get away. Actress Antonia Bernath was just as good, possibly even more so than Palmer as all you ever really got of her was her voice. She doesn’t ever make a full appearance during the entire movie, but still held her weight as the more sarcastic and cynical of the two trying her best to keep W.C. from completely losing it. I enjoyed both of their performances, but what I enjoyed the most was how well they were together, playing off of each other perfectly and making the movie an enjoyable watch with their back and forth banter. The dialogue the two shared though out the movie was perfectly written in my opinion, but it was how well they interacted that truly brought it all together.

ST4

{You honestly feel for the guy the entire movie}

ST7

{That’s his view point for a good chunk of the movie}

The zombies were a good chunk of the humor as well. These zombies seem to get themselves into some very funny situations, not being able to tell if they should go after W.C. or his reflection in a mirror, being confused by a hand dryer, and almost figuring out exactly how a ladder works, not to mention some of the zombies present in the bathroom. Since it was an office Christmas party several of the zombies are all dressed up for the occasion. We have Santa and his elf, a man interrupted during an ice cream break, a woman dressed up as some kind of cupcake, as well as zombie Jesus, not the actual Jesus mind you, just someone dressed up like him. Felt like I should clarify there so no one goes in expecting an Undead Jesus vs. Maintenance Man fight scene. The makeup for the zombies was done exceptionally well for the movie. They all looked very beat up and very dead, some more so than others. I thought they put a lot of effort into making sure the zombies looked as realistic as possible, nothing too over the top but nothing too subtle. Really, most of the makeup effect are well done. There is a lot of gore in this film, blood is almost always flying, and people get ripped apart by the ravenous dead, and almost all of it looked great. I have to say almost because there are some times where they sadly fall into the trap of using CGI blood. It isn’t often, but when it is used it is very obvious. I simply will never understand the point of expending so much effort to make the gore look so good and then throwing in computer generated blood. It absolutely never looks good and always hurts a film.

ST8

{To be fair mirrors are confusing}

ST13

{Most likely not what you want to see when you peak over the stall}

ST10

{Never a good situation to be a apart of}

Still, Stalled was a fun movie that while comedic showed a lot heart in portraying how two people would deal with a situation that finds them dealing with an apocalyptic scenario that leaves them nearly isolated with only the sound of their voices to get them through it. While I wish they had avoided the CGI blood there was still so much done right that I couldn’t help but love this film.

 

The Undead Review

 

Directed By: Christian James (Absence, Hit/Run)

Starring: Dan Palmer (Small Town Folk, Evil Aliens) and Antonia Bernath (Elvis, Powder Room)

Released By: Cubicle Hero, Mad Dimensions, Pinnacle Films, and Uncork’d Entertainment

Release Year: 2013

Release Type: Straight to Video

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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