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One Must Fall Movie Review

Written by Ilan Sheady

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Written and directed by Antonio Pantoja
2018, 96 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 31st October 2018

Starring:
Vincent Lee Alston as The Bald Man
Daniel de Weldon as Daniel
Rebekah Lynn Dow as Regina
Heidi Harian as Sarah's Mom

Review:

1986, Louisville Kentucky, single mother and rising sales star Sarah (Julie Streble) is on a steady road to success. Her targets are smashing office records and, though her company has plummeting stock and a walking #metoo advertisement for a boss, she takes every day in her sassy stride. When Sarah is fired for a discrepancy from her high rise job, along with ‘gay best friendʼ Alton (Andrew Yackal) they join forces and apply for a better paid career in crime scene cleanup only moments after Louisville reports the emergence of its first ever serial killer.

Horror comedies are nothing new. Edgar Wrightʼs Shaun of the Dead and Christopher Smithʼs Severance contain a perfect blend of believable humour and emotionally charged death. Where One Must Fall differs is the extremities of both.

After opening on a violent and gore filled pre-credit sequence we jump to the hilarious performance of sales manager Brad, played expertly by J.P. Lebangood. He humorously belittles his team and slimily propositions Sarah despite him already being married.

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Lebangood instantly sells the whole movie; taking an obnoxious role of sexually harassing boss, pushing every line to its best possible delivery and devouring every bit of scenery in the process. He is devoted to his unsavoury character and embodies it with no hesitation. Sarah snaps back at her boss with just as much cartoonish energy, perfectly solidifying the comedy universe the characters live in.

When Sarah leaves the safety of her high tower office job to work in the dirty and seedy world of crime-scene cleanup, One Must Fall shifts gradually from an SNL comedy to a brutal slasher where previously cartoonish characters are killed off much like Judge Doom dissolving that animated shoe in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

This is an extremely fresh approach to the slasher genre and a break from the traditional format. Instead of irritating teenagers that we canʼt wait to die, we have entertaining one tone caricatures that suddenly react like human beings when confronted with the threat of death. It is in these moment we see who they really are.

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Where One Must Fall falls down (ahem), however, is in the final act. Whilst the first two acts feel well scripted and solid, the third, where the horror fully begins, feels almost improvised. Once the killer (Barry Piacente) is in close quarters with our cleanup crew, set pieces and deaths become either incredibly quick or extremely drawn out through bloated conversation. Characters survive regardless of the investment we have in them; some that should have died earlier are still alive while some that should fulfill a part of their narrative destiny die insignificantly.

Regardless, director Antonio Pantoja maintains a reasonable sense of identity. For a film with such an integral comedic element itʼs interesting to see more than a few inspirations taken from Franck Khalfounʼs 2012 remake of Maniac, in particular music, lighting and some iconic sequences. Thereʼs a generous amount of gore, body parts and horror tropes with a surprising amount of likeable characters. Sarah in particular deserves praise for transitioning flawlessly from comedic scenes to scenes of snot-dripping terror, but the jewel in One Must Fallʼs crown is a call back that frankly deserves a round of applause.

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This is a fresh and original approach to the horror genre that fails to make the landing it deserves. Itʼs a cocktail of genre tropes from both sides of the coin, with dedicated performances and a poignant message. While itʼs disappointing that the ending lacks the sleekness and pacing the rest of the film boasts it still contains a lot of passion, heart and talent both in front and behind the camera.

Fun fact: Tromaʼs Lloyd Kaufman makes a cameo appearance and makes a reference to porn legend Ron Jeremy. Jeremy played in Troma Entertainmentʼs Terror Firmer, The Toxic Avenger IV: Citizen Toxie, and Poultrygeist making this some hardcore fan service.

Grades:

Movie: Threestars One Must Fall Small
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