Fifteen years after a gruesome triple homicide devastated their Little League baseball team, four friends reunite to commemorate their dead coach and fallen teammates. A mystery unfolds as ... See full summary »
Four teenagers on a road trip decide to take a detour and find them selves at at haunted house halloween scream park deep in the woods of southern Kentucky. After witnessing an assortment ... See full summary »
The bizarre story takes place in Amsterdam-West, where a virus turns people into bloodthirsty zombies. Although much blood is flowing and many limbs chopped off, there is a lot to laugh at in this bizarre horror comedy.
Pandemic is set in the near future, where a virus of epic proportions has overtaken the planet. There are more infected than uninfected, and humanity is losing its grip on survival. Its ... See full summary »
A deranged masked Santa-Slayer comes to town for some yuletide-terror. He leaves behind a bloody trail of mutilated bodies as he hunts his way to the front steps of the town's most feared and notorious home.
Ashley Mary Nunes,
More John Hughes than John Carpenter, a zombie movie that's not exploitational
I was lucky enough to see this based on the fact I was a huge fan of the team's first feature, FREAK OUT, also written by and starring Dan Palmer and directed by Christian James. This is not quite more of the same - Freak Out was a handmade, home-made movie taking years to film and has confident-low-budget-feel that comes from that kind of production and the somewhat leisurely pace of it. By virtue of it's setting and plotting, STALLED lacks the scope of FREAK OUT which, in the long tradition of horror/monster movies, functioned almost as a travelogue for small towns in general, but it gains in every other area because it is clearly a more professional production, shot on a tight schedule (almost all of it on one set), with more of a cohesive whole.
The writing is a lot more confident - if Freak Out was driven by an infectious craziness - a low-budget British attempt at an early Joe Dante film - this is more like Joss Whedon's writing. There's a heavy emphasis on character, a lot of fun with words and clichés, gratuitous pop culture references (including some very important ones to "Jingle All the Way") and a sweet natured affection throughout. Palmer has called it a cross between "Career Opportunities", a much maligned and neglected John Hughes production about coming of age (it was sort of a riff on both "The Breakfast Club" and "Home Alone", but with a love relationship at the core) and George A. Romero's original "Day of the Dead". The latter influence is almost exclusively on the (extremely) confined environment and the zombie presence - none of that film's ugly nihilism is really present, but much of the former's charm is present and in this day and age, that's more impressive to me. Anyone can now fill the screen with zombies and gore, but how many can actually make you care about the characters, especially when there are really only two of them that matter? With an ensemble cast, peripheral characters can alienate us - with only two characters (one of whom is barely seen, more on that in a sec) the audience is potentially stuck with people they hate - the film pulls this off completely.
Our main character is W.C. (that's an abbreviation of "Water Closet", a term for a toilet in case you missed it...it's a throwaway joke, the film is funnier than that) played by Palmer. I don't want to spoil the movie but he's basically a crook with some reasons - selfish, immature but understandable ones. This movie doesn't really want to be "Attack the Block" (which is fine with me, I hated it) and make some bold social statement, but it does use the underlying tension of that for some neat character business. Think more along the lines of Dante's infidelity in "Clerks" than interpreting the zombies as the supernatural guilt manifestations as in an Edgar Allen Poe story.
The other character is "Evie", and I'm somewhat limited about what I can say about her without spoiling the film. Some of the film she functions as an avatar for W.C. to speak to sight-unseen (think "Wilson" in "Castaway"), and in other scenes has a more profound interaction with W.C. (now think "Wilson" in "Home Improvement", barely glimpsed over the fence). She has an arc of her own that it's not fair to spoil, but let it be said it does get you in the heart and speaks to a pretty neglected section of society. In a sea of "Strippers VS Zombies", "Strippers VS Vampires", "Vampire Zombie Strippers" and "Strippers VS Hookers", this stands apart from the noisy soft-core "dvd premiere" zombie toilet.
There are some problems in the film - the movie was shot digital and has a bit of a synthetic look to it, but the story and writing worked well enough that I didn't mind. The set's convincing, the music fantastic (a Tangerine Dream/Mark Isham's score for the original "The Hitcher" feel) and the zombies serviceable.
There is a moment where I have to wonder why the zombies all exclaim "Brains" in one key scene, not in evidence in the rest of the picture, in the manner of the "Return of the Living Dead" zombies (and every zombie parody from 1985-2000, including The Simpsons and South Park).
I do also think the ending, which most people liked, could've stood to lose the last 20 seconds or so. There's a phone call which wraps up the plot quite neatly and nothing more needed to be done, I have to say I thought it was a development too far, but I'm probably in the minority there. My feeling is simply that when the movie was over, what stayed with me wasn't the brilliance of the concept (epic apocalypse, most mundane and awful seat to watch from) but the writing and characterisation wrung out of such a limited situation and cast. To have that final image felt incongruous with the, yes, journey I went on with the characters. In other words, those final few moments ruined the entire film for me and retroactively made me hate their first film...JUST KIDDING.
7 of 15 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this