Imagine a zombie apocalypse; bad right? Now imagine a zombie apocalypse except it takes place while you are stuck in a toilet cubicle; that’s flushed away all your escape plans hasn’t it!
But don’t be down in the dumps (yes there will be a lot of toilet humor in this review!) Christian James first full feature Stalled takes the high concept idea of Phonebooth meets Day of the Dead via a ladies lavatory and crafts it into a very British Zom-Com that luckily isn’t a total turd.
Opening at a Christmas Party a mild mannered janitor, played by the films script writer Dan Palmer, heads into the women’s loo’s to take care of some much needed maintenance but gets erotically sidetracked when a pair of drunken office girls start to make out before his bemused and bespectacled eyes.
Perving from the safety of his stall the lazy looser thinks he is witnessing a dream come true however when one lady takes a bite out of the others throat it becomes a nightmare as he is besieged by blood thirsty undead party goers.
Can he escape the zombie horde? Is he the only human left alive? Will he fix the leaky cistern? How many flushes does it take to get rid of an undead floater? The answers to all these questions and more are found in Stalled.
Light on budget but heavy on ideas the stark simplistic claustrophobic concept works excellently with James and Palmer wringing every joke out of the situation like a penny pinching Scrooge getting the maximum wipes from his single ply.
Packed with flesh hungry humanoids dressed as Santa, a Christmas pudding as well as an evil Elf and even Jesus the handy man with two left feet who is privy to no information on the end of the world outside faces a multitude of dangers from all sides as he attempts to escape his blood soaked water closet.
Although it may not sound it Stalled’s opening is actually quite innovative with the lead character mute till a good way into the film making it almost a silent movie that is luckily not in Smell-o-vision.
As in the brilliant Buried the location may be confined but the shots are not and Palmer often experiments stylistically including a tripped out music video sequence to curb boredom and stop the audience getting a numb bum.
By no means an intellectually challenging movie Stalled is filled to the brim with puerile toilet humor and gratuitous gore which is all expected however the films frequent sexism does grate and irritate much like cheap school toilet paper.
Palmer’s dialogue aims at Quentin Tarantino but sometimes comes across more Jim Davidson and his acting skills are somewhat lacking although he does ultimately create a likable anti-hero and his relationship with the unseen girl in the third cubicle is well handled with an unexpected and interesting payoff.
A great debut and an entertaining twist on a genre that has been plumbed to death (don’t worry its almost over!) this sick and twisted zombie comedy has solid effects, frequent laughs and an above average story proving that the team behind Stalled are most definitely going somewhere and it’s not down the toilet.