Review by: Dave Wain
Stars: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, Tamaryn Payne, Mark Holden
Written by: Dan Palmer
UK Certification: 18
UK RRP: £12.99
UK DVD Region: 2
Runtime: 81 minutes
Directed by: Christian James
UK Release Date: 24th February 2014
I must admit I knew very little about Stalled prior to its release, other than the fact I’d seen a whole host of friends in the horror fraternity raving about it in the various social media forums. As with all good things I tend to put the earplugs in, a blindfold on and go “LA LA LA LA” incessantly until release day – and here we are.
Confession time – I’ve not seen Freak Out, Dan Palmer and Christian James’ previous collaboration, but it will be landing on my desk in the next few days, so I went in to Stalled blind of their sense of humour or whether I’d be on the same page. Within five minutes however, I was in a happy place indeed. Billed as The Evil Dead meets Phone Booth… in a toilet, we first meet ‘W.C’ (writer Dan Palmer) as he waits anxiously outside the women’s toilets for them to become vacant. Once in he surveys the scene, noticing a ‘no smoking’ sign that needs fixing back in place, and hearing that the internal Musak speaker is playing up, which upon closer inspection hides a dead rat. Already in the toilet is a red toolbox left by another janitor, but as the camera repeatedly glances at it we are lead to believe that it’s full of cash.
W.C is interrupted from investigating further by the arrival of two girls – both a little worse for wear. Hiding in one of the cubicles he peeks under the door as they engage in some drunken kissing, but they’re interrupted by the janitor who left the red toolbox who tries to force his way in to reclaim his loot. The girls cite the fact that they are barely dressed and manage to stave off this intrusion. As they interlock lips once more though, one of the girls takes more than saliva, and rips a chunk of the flesh from her companions face. With W.C trapped in the, erm… W.C, and with a horde of zombies now making their way in, this janitor has a battle for survival on his hands.
Containing the best bra-catapult visual gag that you’ll have seen in a good while, Stalled is staggering in its originality and its ballsiness. There’s a Shaun of the Dead comparison on the cover (from Kim Newman no less), but I think that diminishes just how bold Stalled is as it’s practically incomparable to anything else. As the film progresses, W.C learns of the presence of ‘Evie’, another patron in one of the cubicles, and as they talk through a resolution to their nightmarish scenario they find themselves forming a bond. All through this burgeoning friendship though, we never see ‘Evie’. The camera only shoots W.C with the character of ‘Evie’ represented by a sketch in marker pen on the cubicle wall which the camera cuts to intermittently when she speaks. It’s perhaps a simple concept, but one that highlights the level of work and determination that has gone in to the movie to create something so fresh.
From the lighter moments of this relationship, there is also a staggering level of gore and repulsive imagery in Stalled. The scene of a zombie distraction through the distribution of used sanitary towels really tested my gag reflex, while some of the make-up work in the areas of body dismemberment are truly impressive. Anyway, I’m compelling myself to stop now in fear that I may well go on to praise this film to the point of critical fellatio – and no-one needs to read that. Just take it from me, Stalled is the most original British horror movie that you have seen in a long time and it will make you laugh and retch in equal measure. That’s no mean feat.
9 out of 10
Audio commentary with Christian James, Dan Palmer and Rick Edwards
Audio commentary with Dan Pickering and Richard Kerrigan
Behind the scenes
Opening sequence storyboard
Ladder sequence storyboard