What if the apocalypse came and, well, you were stuck in the lav? That’s the silly, amusing premise of Stalled, the 2013 follow-up to the cult comedy horror Freak Out. Freak Out made up for its minimal budget with its left field humour and sensible film-making and Stalled carries on in much the same fashion. The best way to save money is to use limited sets and so this uses just about the most limited set possible: a toilet cubicle.
Dan Palmer (who also wrote) plays a lowly janitor who is called to repair the ladies toiled during a tacky office Christmas party. When a couple of girls come in and start indulging in a spot of drunken snogging he takes refuge in one of the three cubicles, which proves to be a pretty sensible place to be when one of them suddenly bites a chunk out of the other and it turns out that just about everyone else in the office has become a flesh eating zombie. After a few hours of understandable panic, less understandable drug taking and striking up a conversation with a fellow survivor in one of the other cubicles, he begins to devise a way by which they can escape.
This might be yet another in the endless stream of zombie films that seem to be coming out of the UK at the moment but it is at least – like Harold’s Going Stiff – one which is distinguished by a degree of intelligence and wit. Often laugh out loud funny (the fate of ‘Jeff from IT’ is particularly amusing) it’s one of the few films that can authentically claim to give Simon Pegg and Nick Frost a run for their money, although the key influence here is most likely Sam Raimi and his The Evil Dead films. But the writing also displays a degree of skill in the way it develops characters and the simple narrative, while Palmer makes for a strangely sympathetic downtrodden hero.