One Must Fall (Review)
One Must Fall marks the first film in Antonio Pantoja's filmography. Like me, he is a fellow Louisville Kentucky native so naturally this film peaked my interest. Originally I was going to be attending the opening at Louisville Palace, but things came up and I was fortunate enough to receive a screener from him to see the movie early. Being from Louisville I'm in a way rooting for Pantoja, but the question is after seeing the movie did that support waver in any way? Let's find out.
One Must Fall stars a tireless worker named Sarah who has to put up with quite the douche of a boss named Brad who not only is obnoxious and not good at his job, but is also someone who makes passes at her. The one thing keeping her going is her son at home Shepherd, her drive to give him the best life possible, and of course her friend Alton that she's been friends with since they were kids.
If life at her desk job with a crappy boss wasn't bad enough, he then informs her that she is fired and so is Alton. Out of work and desperate she joins a clean up crew with Alton that cleans up leftover crime scenes with all the blood and nasty dismemberments your tireless horror brain could possibly think of.
This movie doesn't particularly go for the blood and gore right away. I mean sure there's a few scenes sprinkled in before they get to the main event, but a lot of it is character building and it is done very well I might add. Pantoja seems to have a firm grasp on his actors in terms of getting them to portray his vision. We do get one quick scene at the opening that's pretty juicy with a nice synthy score as a beautiful shot soars over the city, but other than that for the most part it's your standard character building and I applaud that. Too many movies nowadays just want to throw you into the action without making you care about the characters that eventually will inevitably be in peril.
The movie also carries an unexpected dose of comedy in the earlier portion of the film when we're getting to see these characters grow right before our very eyes. For me personally some jokes landed and some didn't, but you can tell Pantoja knew what he was doing with the way he presented the comedy in this movie. I know some horror fans don't like any comedy in their horror movies. For me personally it can work and only further engage us with the characters in some instances. One Must Fall delivered where a lot of other horror movies fail with comedy is they don't know when to turn it off. I'm pleased to say Pantoja knew exactly when to hit that off switch when the madness started to get going.
Pantoja also has a knack for the details. Things can seem so little but add great effect like being able to see characters breath, the use of flickering lights and many more little things that take place amongst the mayhem. Again might seem simple enough but I can't tell you how many movies I think would benefit from the little subtleties that Pantoja presents in this movie.
As far as characters go it's a mixed bag for me overall but none that I dislike. Just ones that range from good to great.
The Killer - the Killer in this movie was phenomenal. Very believably evil without question! Although there's that build up before the movie punches you in the gut, there still are those few scenes I talked about sprinkled in that shows you this guy isn't here to hear your sobbing or for you to persuade him. He's got one job and one job only...making your life a living hell in the best way he sees fit and the movie doesn't take long to get that point across. (Mild spoiler) there's even a scene where they're talking about how they needed dental records from his latest slew of victims just to figure out the true identity of said victims! Dude is a human wrecking ball of carnage and did I say he means business?!?!
Sarah - as I talked about earlier is a very deep character and quite fittingly she was my favorite character which is crucial for your lead role. If you don't like your lead horse and you don't have someone to root for what do you really have? You were just praying she made it out of this situation to get home to her son and you had already seen she had already been through enough in life before this anyways.
Alton - he's a guy that's down on his love life that is trying to find himself as a gay man and is the best friend of Sarah like I briefly touched on earlier in the review. There's a weird dynamic going on in a way between them cause they recall a certain time in their lives where Sarah thought they were going to be a thing and they had a couple other references in the movie about that kind of thing as well. You truly wondered if maybe they could become something more than friends because of how much they clearly meant to each other and you admired their deep bond.
Dorian - I'll be honest at first I wasn't a huge fan of this guy as the clean up crews boss but as the movie went on he won me over quite a bit. He just had this habit of saying the worst things at the wrong time and although amusing it was slowly wearing thin on me but he overall is a lovable character as the film goes on and we get a brief backstory on a certain tragedy that befell him that he blames himself for and that really added another layer to his character that I personally thought was another nice touch.
Todd - was the second in command sarcastic wiseass of the group and although indifferent as I was about him originally I think as the film progressed we saw deep down he really cared and it was all just a show he put on.
Daniel - was a character that didn't really do much for me. All I really got out of him is that he had been employed to Dorian for a while but overall he served his purpose.
Bob - same thing as Daniel as he filled the role nicely but wasn't well fleshed out but then again in a movie like this not every character has to be
Regina - was an interesting one who was a little different from the rest but she ends up playing a big part in the film
I'm not sure of the exact budget on this film but the gore effects are definitely on point and believable.
The kills are in a nice variety with a good variety of different weapons used which mixes things up quite nicely because let's be honest, as morbid as it sounds nobody wants to see every guy and gal get it in the exact same way the whole movie.
The kill count isn't extremely high but it isn't really low either and even though it isn't extremely high it more than makes up for it with the gore and blood effects on each one of the kills it does have.
Part of the reason there is only a moderate kill count is because they're trapped inside of this building alone with 20,000 floors. Trust me if this killer was outside of that building the kill count would rise tenfold but the movie is more contained and it's all the better for it giving it more of a claustrophobic atmosphere which is quite nice. I mean it's a huge building so obviously the actors aren't crammed in a tight space claustrophobic but in terms of being contained and caged in like rats claustrophobic.
Another thing I really enjoy is the end credits artwork and the artwork on the still at the beginning for the One Must Fall that blankets over the screen.
And last but not least when the shit hits the fan buckle your seatbelts cause it turns up to a 11. Once everyone realizes the severity of the situation and that there's a killer on the loose everything ratchets up quite a few notches from that point onward.
So most definitely One Must Fall is not only a movie that one must see, I'm pleased to say it's also a movie that one must own for any horror fan that's serious about there collection like I am and Antonio Pantoja is a director you need to keep an eye out for cause this ain't the end it's only the beginning! This engine is just getting started baby.