In Christian James’ Stalled, a hapless protagonist is trapped in a toilet on New Year’s Ece by a zombie apocalypse … here, it’s a stalled lift and the protagonist is a nastier piece of work, but again we get a world-changing disaster seen from a very limited perspective. Written by Cristiano Ciccotti and direcotr Misischia, and produced by the Manetti Brothers, it manages to sustain itself for 100 minutes with mostly the one actor (Alessandro Roja) onscreen, glimpses of things happening just beyond the half-open door and the occasional phone call.
In Rome, Claudio Verona (Roja) orders his driver to turn off the news headlines (about co-ordinated attacks by maddened people), focusing on an important meeting he is late for – he is curt, patronising and devious in his dealings with minions, except for a pretty intern he teases with the possibility of a promotion that may not be on offer unconditionally … and barges into the lift solely so he can hit on Marta (Euridice Axen), a colleague he once had an affair with. She rebuffs him physically, and gets off the elevator, which then gets stuck between floors – making him unlikely to make the meeting, even as society collapses outside the building and the chaos rises up around him. Claudio has the beginnings of a redemptive arc – in phone conversations with his long-suffering and now imperilled wife (voiced by Carolina Crescentini) – but mostly treats rampaging zombies the way he does machines that don’t work properly or minions who don’t live upto his demands.
Late in the film, a security guy (Roberto Scotto Pagliara) drops in through a trapdoor – the irony being that while Claudio has been trying to escape from his metal trap, others might see the cage as a safe refuge. Zombies sometimes run down the corridor and many of the folks Claudio has thoughtlessly interacted with pass by again – either living dead or doomed – as he fumes. A problem with this sort of story is that there’s literally nowhere to go, but this shrugs that off – and a third act does get into new territory (with a punchline that’s a chill response to that shot which ended Night of the Living Dead and started this craze in the first place). Though it’s an Italian zombie movie, it looks to American (even British) films for references rather than to the Italian zombi stumblers of the ‘80s.