STALLED

7 out of 10

Release Date: 3rd March 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Christian James

Cast: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernthal (voice), Tamaryn Payne, Mark Holden, Sarah Biggins and Victoria Broom

Writer: Dan Palmer

Trailer: STALLED

Review by Joe Pesci II below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “STALLED

  1. STALLED – review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher

    A caretaker with a dark secret pops into the ladies’ toilets at work during the office Christmas party and is witness to part of a zombie holocaust. This should have been the perfect movie (of its type). So why did I hate it? After all, it’s inventive, witty, clever, thoroughly and gleefully disgusting, does a huge amount with no money, has a simple and successful premise, as well as a surprisingly capable leading man (and it is in effect a showcase for him alone). In fact, it’s a pretty good movie. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll love this film. But hang on a minute, I like this sort of thing and I hated it so that doesn’t make sense. Please excuse me whilst I try to puzzle this out.

    Maybe it’s best if you stop reading; I think I’m being picky or awkward, or maybe I’ve just fallen into a rut of hating films (but after OUTPOST 11, HE WHO DARES, ABDUCTED and FREEBIRD who could blame me?). STALLED sets out its stall early on and it achieves them: one proper character in a toilet versus the zombie takeover. The comedy is well timed and the splatter and gore achieve the necessary visceral / comic balance. Writer and star Dan Palmer creates a mostly believable character who is even likeable (though the backstory is a bit tacked on and perfunctory, like someone in the script department said ‘give him a backstory’). There are plenty of grotesque jokes and sight-gags, lots of severed fingers, screwdrivers are plunged into zombie heads, and our caretaker finds that he is remarkably well-suited to defending himself in his cubicle of doom and despair. The zombies are better realised than they often are (see GANGSTERS, GUNS AND ZOMBIES to see how it can all go hideously wrong), and the film makes inventive use of its (more or less) single set.

    It’s just… I didn’t like anything about it.

    One easily identifiable problem is the other character. Our hero suddenly discovers he is not alone. We never see the other character (except for a really rubbish reveal which suggests that fat people should be eaten by zombies – sorry that’s probably a SPOILER) but we hear her. A lot. She’s voiced by Antonia Bernath who gives an excellent audio performance, but that’s the trouble: it sounds like she’s been dubbed in afterwards instead of reacting to the events as they happen. For a while I wondered whether she was meant to be a figment of our hero’s imagination. Certainly, neither script nor hero are particularly interested in her as a character, which is ironic given the development at the end. And yet she goes on and on, seemingly cocooned in a sound studio somewhere else, and you just wish the zombies would get on with it. But the trouble is elsewhere, this was just a minor irritation.

    Is it the straightforwardness of the plot, the clumsiness of some character quirks, a certain smugness in the execution? Maybe, but I think I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Am I too old for juvenile zombie cannibal comedies? Maybe that’s it.

    Dear readers, I fear I have failed you. Even as I write this I know that I am being beastly to a film which I really should have liked, and I feel that it is my failure not the film’s. I therefore crave forgiveness from anyone out there, and I urge them to see STALLED (but only if they are already paid-up fans of the zombie comedy subgenre) if only to prove me wrong.

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