Rue Morgue contributor Charlotte Stear weighs in on the Zombie Appreciation Night selections at this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Dir: Christian James
If you think you’ve seen everything a zombie comedy can offer, let me introduce to you Stalled, a British film about a man locked in a bathroom stall during a zombie outbreak. For an entry in a subgenre that has already seen so much, Stalled is a unique, engrossing movie that boasts one of the most interesting zombie concepts in years.
During a Christmas party, a janitor (Dan Palmer) is finishing his last shift by fixing a sign in the women’s toilets. After taking refuge in a cubicle when some drunk ladies enter, he realises alcohol is not the only thing affecting their sensibilities. Soon the entire bathroom is crawling with flesh-eating zombies and the janitor has to figure out a way to leave his space without becoming their dinner.
What makes this concept so successful is how, even though it doesn’t stray far from the four walls of the bathroom, it manages to develop in the most interesting ways; from a rave scene in a cubicle to a dramatic climb across a ladder balanced over a sea of zombies, you never know where it will go next. Along with the ridiculous gross-out scenes and slapstick humour, there is a tender heart beating at the centre of this film, making Stalled a surprisingly clever success that shouldn’t be missed.
The Battery (USA)
Dir: Jeremy Gardner
After watching a zombie attack in such a confined space, The Battery is a perfect place to go to next: zombie life in the great wide open.
Two former baseball players, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim), roam New England after a zombie outbreak has ravaged the earth. Their journey is marred by their clashing personalities and they have to overcome their differences in order to survive.
The Battery definitely boasts the best soundtrack of the festival, with parts of the movie often feeling like a music video. The alternative rock is really a great match for the laid-back style of the film. But if you’re looking for an action-filled romp, this is not the film for you. The Battery is a slow-paced buddy comedy that explores the relationship between the former teammates. There are some very funny moments in the film – Ben catching Mickey “relieving” himself in the car is a stand-out – but the last quarter of the movie feels flat and the final sequence, which sees the two men trapped in a car, quickly becomes tedious. The style and music of the movie are impressive, but ultimately it brings nothing new to the genre.