After losing her sales job, a woman gets a job part of a crime scene clean-up crew with the help of her BFF. As a serial killer hits the city, the crew has plenty of work and may be at risk themselves.
Written and directed by Antonio Pantoja, whose feature debut it is, this horror comedy is set in the 1980s with pop culture references and wardrobe choices straight out of the decade. However, with the current obsession with nostalgia going on just about everywhere, it might as well be set in a more recent time. This is not an issue per se but with small details here and there not fully fitting with the decade, some of the hair styles for example. The story here is fun and the way it’s brought to the screen works with it. The style here is mostly straightforward and the comedic elements keep things from going full-on brutal while nicely filling the time before and between the more violent and gorier scenes. The characters are for the most part interesting and people that seem real and react in realistic ways to their situation. The one that seems a bit off is the boss who’s obsessed with the lead. He comes off as too much, more like a caricature than a person which may be because of a mix of writing, directing, and acting. That being said, the film has strong writing and directing overall with a good sense of humor that relieves the tension to then drop the viewer back in, something that is hard to obtain and rarely seen done right as it is in this film.
The main cast does good to great work in One Must Fall with Julie Streble as Sarah, John Wells as Dorian, Barry Piacente as The Killer, and Andrew Yackel as Alton being the best of the bunch. The group that finds themselves at the mercy of The Killer has a good chemistry together and works well at creating comedy within the horror of the situation. Julie Streble is the clear lead here and she handles the bulk of the film without any issue and gives a fun performance to watch. Her work here is more than just comedic or just horror-victim; she mixes something from column A with something from column B every moment that she is on screen. She shows that she can deliver on both fronts and do so very well. One that comes off as “a bit much” but it works for his character is Andrew Yackel as Alton, Sarah’s BFF and someone she clearly cares about deeply but without the usual sexual tension found between female and male that are close in this type of movie. This is a fun dynamic and it works well for the film and for its evolution through the run time. The performance from Barry Piacente as The Killer is interesting in that he is menacing but not seemingly supernatural or with particular powers, he’s a killer, a serial one at that, he seems to enjoy what he’s doing and he truly believes he is doing what he needs to be doing. This comes across in Piacente’s performance and gives him an edge. However, for brutal horror or scary horror fans, he comes off a bit less imposing or scary than some might want him to. This works in terms of making him a normal man who is just plain evil.
The film does great with the gore once it kicks in and the nonchalant way they approach it at first, as a crime scene clean-up crew, is fun to watch. The special effects by Vincent J. Guastini are fantastic here and show lots of talents with a capacity to work on a low budget. The red and gooey is fantastic to watch and should satiate gore hounds once it shows up. There is probably not as much as some will wish for, but what is there is very skillfully done and it shows a passion for effects on the part of Guastini. Another fun aspect of the film is the music by Joe Stockton which helps create the sense of nostalgia and underlines the scenes and emotions just right. The film uses it at its best and it creates a mood for the whole film that is fun and brings the viewer in.
One Must Fall is a fun horror comedy that is easy to watch and easy to love. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also takes the subject and its process seriously enough to make a quality film. The film looks great, the gore is fantastic, and the performances are fun to watch. It’s easy to see it playing well with midnight crowds and rowdy groups as well as for a fun night at home. The film’s basic idea is entertaining and it keeps itself in check all the way until the end, giving a really fun, gory result.