Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Stalled" - - I Can't Go When Someone's Watching . . .Or Eating

I'm a sucker for independent movies. Not like those tryhard "art" films that explore the human condition, or as much of the human condition a 21 year old film student knows about. No, I'm a fan of the independent film that is somehow able to pack in the most punch for the smallest amount of time and money and still be as entertaining as the big boys.

In the same vein, I'm a huge fan of the "single set" film. Give me a house, a cabin; give me a cast and crew stuffed into their grandma's home over the course of 6 weekends. To me, that is the heart of filmmaking. Almost every director worth their salt started in this position. It's the passion, not the budget, that drives the picture.

Also, I'm sure being able to take shots like this and not end up in prison
drive the picture as well.

"Stalled" takes the "single set" film to a whole new level by placing 90% of the film inside a woman's restroom, and most of that action in a stall. One of the main characters, another stall-goer with a badly timed case of the dumps is never seen, only heard. Minimalism is the name of the game here and "Stalled" plays that game like a master.

W.C. is maintence man working late during a employee Christmas part. He walks into the women's restroom with his huge tool box, sets it down on the sink, and begins to plot his next move before he is interrupted two chirpish and overly friendly (with each other) girls. Hiding in the first stall he can sneak into W.C. gets a voyeuristic view of some light lesbian action before Girl One devours Girl Two.

Yes, this is a zombie film.

There is nothing sexy about this picture but since it's now on the Internet
someone, somewhere is getting a boner to it.

I recently made the case against horror/comedy films: The movie is so relentless in proving it's funny that the threat becomes too light. "Stalled" is one of the movies that gets it right. The zombies are a definite force of evil. The humor comes not from how dumb the zombies are or some weird self-referential nonsense but  W.C.'s reactions to his own predicament. After calling for help, a man wearing a suit of protective motorcycle gear bursts into the bathroom. He takes a proper hero's pose, then raises the visor on his helmet to show that he too is a zombie.

"No! Go away! No, I want LIVE people!" W.C.protests.

A large part of the entertainment value of this movie is how inventive W.C., and by extension the filmmakers, are. He's a maintenance man armed with just a screwdriver in his pocket but with that he is able to make modifications to the stall to buy him some time. To get out though, he's going to need to reach the tool box of heavy weapons on the bathroom sink.

This bathroom is still cleaner than mine.

But "Stalled" isn't a one man show. Well, it is, but he does have a co-star

She has a cute face but she's a little flat chested.

Evie is a young woman trapped a stall away. Never seen but always heard, Evie cheers him on and beats him down. She is both the cheerleader and the devil on his shoulder. While he can't see her he does sketch a picture of her. This works for him by giving him another human presence in his own stall and it works for us by letting us getting to know Evie without ever seeing her.

As the movie progresses, the idea that Evie is just all in his head is possible but the end result of her storyline is far more poignant. I think a lesser movie would have made her a simple ghost voice but "Stalled" is not a lesser movie. And hats off to actress Antonia Bernath who spends the entire movie unseen. To sign up for a film where you are never seen is a ballsy approach for any actor.

"Stalled" is not only a great zombie movie but a great independent film as well. It is inventive and extremely well made and deserves to be viewed by horror and film fans alike.

So . . .how about a little head?