Maybe I’m alone in this wish but how many of you reading this right now have ever just wished for a boss like Michael Scott? A simple, care-free, sometimes ignorant of his words and actions but a gentleman that means well nonetheless. I think it’s more than possible that we don’t have bosses like that in real life. I’ve had several friends who hate their job solely because of their boss. Whether they are just rude, thoughtless, selfish, lazy or whatever - a bad boss is one of the top five reasons people will leave a job. A story that is all too familiar but is how the horror film, One Must Fall, opens up.
Coming forth as the brainchild and debut of writer-director, Antonio Pantoja, comes a horror movie that focuses on Sarah (Julie Streble) who is recently let go of her office job and forced to take up a temporary job in order to provide for her family. It is in that temporary job as crime scene clean-up crew that ultimately becomes her undoing as her and her crew face off against a vicious killer (Barry Piacente). Fall takes place within the 80s but spends some of the its time out of touch with its’ atmosphere. The use of modern-day camera angles within the film’s climatic third act derive audiences of its’ nostalgic love letter to the groundbreaking slasher genre of the 1980s. While those sequences are beautifully shot they feel out of place with the rest of the film. Some of the set design within the film’s first act can feel a bit modernized as well. Only giving into that out of touch atmospheric feeling all the more.
Perhaps one of the biggest culprits of that creation is J.P. Lebangood’s Brad – the boss. Lebangood feels two-dimensional and annoying but his over acting approach to the sleazy businessman cliché of the 1980s only make his scenes that much harder to watch. Lebangood only graces audience with a total of 10 to 15 minutes of screen time, if that, but his overuse of cliché only solidify the loss of its’ voice the film suffers from its first act. However, once the film removes itself from the office setting and brings itself to the intimate crime scene setting there is a tonal shift for the better. Upon her first day on the new job, the film opens the door for well written characters and some surprisingly tender moments. Proving Fall has more to offer than cliché but real depth.
This cast with Streble and her chemistry between Dorian (John Wells), her boss, and her best friend in Alton (Andrew Yackel) is incredible. Streble and Well craft some of the film’s most vulnerable moments – creating some of the film’s biggest heart. Though the scenes that really shine the brightest within the film are those between Streble and Yackel. The two young actors have incredible chemistry. Crafting a natural interaction on scene that allows for some of the film’s funniest moments. Though, as strong as this cast is, they are nothing compared to the film’s killer in Piacentre. Piacentre single-handedly elevates Fall to another level entirely. His intense depiction of the character is electrifying, terrifying and absolutely a must see for all horror fans. His presence allows the film to experience a rejuvenating resurgence of intensity that many films in the horror genre fail to deliver. The intensity of Piacentre allows for some of the strongest death sequences within the film. Ultimately leaving viewers with an absolute satisfaction.
Overall, One Must Fall, is an impressive debut from writer-director, Antonio Pantoja. Pantoja manages to crate a satisfying, terrifying and absolutely mesmerizing entry into the horror genre. Fall attempts to write a love letter to the slasher films of the 80s. For the most part, it succeeds. Though, there are a couple of set pieces and camera angles that destroy that nostalgic affection. Though, they are not alone. Fall also manages to deliver some pretty two-dimensional characters that make the film suffer as a whole. The majority of the film has strong legs to stand on. With the inclusion and intensity of the antagonist in Barry Piacentre the film is elevated to a whole other level. One Must Fall is smart, funny, vicious and surprisingly tender in its’ delivery. Though it only becomes that identity when it finds its’ voice.
And more importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, addiction, self-harm or depression - please free feel to reach out. Use any our resources, call the suicide lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text 741-741.
Credits: One Must Fall is property of One Must Fall. We do not own nor claim any rights. This is an official selection of Genre Blast Film Festival 2019. Music by Beggars. Listen below for our interview with the film’s producer Taylor Christine.