Starting from a clever premise, “One Must Fall” is a bloody, entertaining love letter to the genre that delivers a welcome mix of comedy and carnage.
Sometimes trailers can ignite a fiery anticipation, and in our world this is an exciting thing. Back in early December of last year, I began seeing a trailer floating on social media. I’m always excited to watch what is coming down the horror pipeline, but this one in particular really piqued my interest.
The film entitled One Must Fall from writer, director and editor Antonio Pantoja, seemed to have a simple yet terrifying premise: what would happen if a killer never left the scene of the crime, waiting to strike again on those who would least expect it?
Antonio’s film opens violently but quickly gives way to a complete tonal shift that I was both not expecting but ended up truly enjoying. We meet Sarah (Julie Streble) and her perpetually late homosexual lifemate Alton (Andrew Yackel ) in their depressing office day jobs in 1980s Louisville, Kentucky, which is also where One Must Fall was proudly filmed.
As the friends find themselves shit-canned by their scumbag boss, a serial killer wreaks havoc on the city. With few quick fix options for the pair, Alton suggests a temporary gig until they find something better — crime scene cleanup.
The first act of One Must Fall utilizes a comedic approach to character development that almost made me forget I was watching a horror flick, if it weren’t for the occasional scene transitions to the killer and his deeds. Well delivered one liners had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion and let me easily become invested in these characters.
Chemistry between actors was highlighted within the thoughtful banter and the attention to set design. Costumes also impressed me, with some fucking fantastic 80s product placements thrown in. An era appropriate score with some ‘nostalgic’ editing really sealed the deal for me, allowing me to easily settle into this world that Pantoja created.
But this is not why you are reading this. Like me, you want blood — and the filmmaker delivers.
Something else Pantoja delivers is an incredible, personal love letter to the genre. As I sat and enjoyed One Must Fall, I was gleefully aware of some homages made throughout. You can almost make a drinking game out of all the lovable genre references. Maniac, Hostel, High Tension, Friday The 13th, Return Of The Living Dead, Frontier(s)… these are to name just a few that are rightfully paid respect to in this film.
And even though Antonio exercises this need to pay tribute to those films, he still successfully makes this tale all his own. This is not only his, but the entire cast’s and crew’s labor of love, and it comes shining through. This is when indie horror can be at its finest and the most celebrated by fans.
After laying down some lighthearted fare, One Must Fall opts for the complete opposite, and it’s not long before the rookie cleanup crew become targeted on only their second assignment; a paint factory where the serial killer recently spearheaded a massacre.
As the murderer begins to pick off the poor souls that he has trapped inside the factory in grand fashion, we become aware of his skewed sense of Godliness which is quite frightening. Barry Piacente portrays The Killer and brings an unnerving level of stoic brutality as he continues to slaughter pretty much everyone that crosses his ‘righteous path.’
There are some truly inspired kills that should make horror fans cheer, along with some surprise cameos made by the legendary Lloyd Kaufman, founder of Troma, and artist Nathan Thomas Milliner.
I anticipate that One Must Fall will undoubtedly entertain; it’s fun, it’s bloody, and it is bred from a genuine lover of the genre. Pantoja practically lives behind the lens on a daily basis. He has produced award-winning photography in addition to his talents as a cinematographer. After a few short films under his belt (Hellhound, Hand Covers Bruise), this feature seems to be his love-child that has been born out of all his passions and interests in life.
He has crafted something that should satisfy the numerous different tastes among genre fans. But, when it comes right down to it, One Must Fall can be viewed as a good ol’ fashioned slasher. The impressive scalpings, machete hacks, tortures and missteps into bear traps are sure to provide an enjoyable viewing spectacle for fans.
Antonio and crew have their World Premiere this March at HorrorHound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio. Until then, you can keep posted on what’s to come for this exciting entry into indie horror via the film’s Facebook page. And if you do get to catch this one, which I suggest you do, make sure to watch the little surprise after the credits.