Brian Troxell dives right into 90s Slasher nostalgias with his latest film ‘One Night of Fear’. With complete disregard for any mainstream slasher etiquette (and indeed 21st century PC) Troxell wears his influences proudly on his bloodstained sleeves as his hulking ‘nameless’ killer (Jason Stutton) slashes his way through a small helpless (often topless) cast who are trapped in a remote cabin and ripe for the slaughter.
Made on a reported budget of $20,000 dollars ‘One Night of Fear’ would have been right at home on the infamous Synapse label – if that gives you any base of reference.
The plot… is pretty much what I have written above. A group of people become trapped in a cabin and terrorised for 70 odd minutes by a machete wielding maniac who baits them, one by one, out of their sanctuary to their deaths. Deaths, which it would seem dependent on gender, either come swiftly and gruesomely (Male) or slow and nakedly (Women). The film is set in the Ocala National Forest in Florida which has a history of disappearances and whose dusty forests are a nice contrast to the usual boreal forests slasher icons tend to haunt. The only break in the carnage is a couple of flashback sequences which hint at the abusive origins of the killer, and indeed offer some of the films more intense scene with a 110% performance by Joel D. Wynkoop who has the thankless task of playing the abusive grandfather.
The plot is unashamedly wafer thin, not surprising considering the films influences, and in all honesty whilst there is some dialogue and attempts made at character development for the most part you are just watching and waiting until the next person is either tortured or killed. The acting is passable, leading ladies do a good enough job of strutting around, the tough guy is tough enough, the killer looks menacing enough (if not a little uninspired) and the comedy relief is amusing in small doses. I grew up watching these sorts of films as my go to Saturday night movie so I knew what I was getting, and I am probably more tolerant than some, however, I cannot help feeling that with the developments in film making – an in particular horror movies, that there is little excuse for not bringing even the most minor of ‘something’ new to the table. ‘One Night of Fear’ does not. Whilst the soundtrack is good overall, there is an annoying tendency for the ladies screams to clip and overload the inputs on the microphones causing that annoying distortion sound which should have been dealt with in post.
That said, what it does well is the bits that matter, most notably its graphic content! The gore is relatively tame, but the violence is brutal and bloody non-the-less. The opening torture scene is hardcore, and kudos for the lady-victim for her performance – tied up in her birthday suit and allowing herself to have her tits rubbed with a saw, only then to be violated with poker of sorts! Indeed, all the victim actors stayed true to the cause, no matter how degrading. When characters are credited as ‘random naked chick’ (Lowie Fawley you’re a lucky lady), and are willing to be displayed in all manner of compromising ways, you know you are watching a team who believe in what they are making! Aside from copious nudity the gore effects are satisfying over the top. Whilst towards the end of the film they oddly get tamer, there are some nice shots scattered throughout – my favourite being the guy’s head exploding after being crushed by a car bonnet. The effects aren’t outstanding, but they certainly are up there with the films contemporaries.
Overall ‘One Night of Fear’, a by the numbers hardcore slasher film. It’s not got much to offer viewers who aren’t already hardened fans of the genre, but if you are a fan, and are stuck for something to watch one rainy evening it’s worth 70 minutes of your time.
‘One Night of Fear’ is available on Amazon Prime here: https://www.amazon.com/One-Night-Fear-Jessica-Sonneborn/dp/B01MG8F6QN