Friday, June 17, 2011

Fall Down Dead and Not Getting Back Up: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a screener of this film was provided by Image Entertainment.

Director: Jon Keeyes.

Writer: Roy Sallows.

The straight-to-DVD market is full of hits and misses. Sometimes one finds a gem, but sometimes one finds a film such as Fall Down Dead. This title, released by Image Entertainment on DVD June 14th, suffers from averageness, which is not a quality that you want in a competitive film market. One hour plus of a cat-and-mouse chase plotline between villain and protagonist just does create enough excitement. The writing from Roy Sallows (The Conspiracy of Fear) creates great characters, but not much tension in this 90 minute thriller?

The main hero is Christie played by (Dominique Swain), who has caught the eye of a serial killer (the Picasso Killer). Two detectives (Mehmet Gunsur, R. Keith Harris) also attempt to handcuff the Picasso Killer (Udo Kier), but they are merely a sidebar to the conflict between Christie and the villain. Kier does his usual sneer in an effective manner, but strangely many of his scenes are performed by a stunt double. Kier is almost seventy now and to see his character leap ten to twenty feet onto a pile of wood, or throwing characters two stories below is hard to take in. Thankfully, the stunt double, in large hairpiece, enacts these unbelievable feats. This change from actor to body double creates some of the few amusing times in Fall Down Dead.

Catching up on plot, the Picasso Killer likes to create pieces of horror artwork, with the skinnings of his female victims. Detectives Stefan and Lawrence do their best to apprehend him, while a city wide blackout isolates those in a stuffy office building. Here minor characters await skinning, filleting and simple torment, until only a few remain. By the midway mark, one gets the sense that this is a indie endeavour, which struggles in pacing. The make-up effects from Starr Jones are well done, but the melodramatic music seems to almost cancel out this positive. As well, the writing is possibly hampered by a small budget and the long soliloquys from the killer to Christine seem to stretch the time, rather than create tension. or move the story along.

Now, the Picasso Killer is chasing Christine through dark hallways and gloomy corridors. David Carradine as a bumbling security guard is almost completely forgotten, by this point. As well, your reward for hanging in till the end is a well performed stunt, but no resolution to the story. One of the characters falls thirty plus feet and unbelievably they show up in the next scene unharmed. Soon, Fall Down Dead then becomes a blur in a slew of other more compelling horror releases e.g. Open House. Then, the credits play and the overdone music plays on, to this reviewer's chagrin. The final thought on the film is, unfortunately: average.

This title is now on DVD, but horror film fans might want to look for a horror film that is more noteworthy and a little more groundbreaking e.g. Stakeland. The premise is well laid out e.g. blackout, serial killer on the loose. However, the middle of the film does not take the film anywhere unique and some of the boredom comes from keeping the film primarily in one set. As well, the finale is a little understated, with director Jon Keeyes taking a subdued and cautious approach to filmmaking. Filmmaking is a difficult undertaking, but Fall Down Dead is not memorable outside of David Carradine's last appearance in film.

Overall: 6.25 out of 10 (the acting is good, there is a character arc or two, the music is poor, and there is no real suspense here, predictable almost to a tee, this is not a bad film, but not great either).

Better films from Image Entertainment:

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