One Night of Fear
Directed by – Brian Troxell
Written by – Brian Troxell and Johnna Troxell
Featuring – Jessica Sonneborn, Suzi Lorraine, Jimmy Dempster, Russ Forga, Megan Sweet, Joel D Wynkoop and Jason Sutton
This movie is based on events surrounding several unsolved disappearances that have occurred over many years, in Florida’s Ocala National Forest.
A group of friends decide to take a break from the norm and go on a hiking trip through the woods. With the group momentarily split up, one of the women in the group bears witness to the brutal murder of her boyfriend. In the meantime, her friends impatiently await the couple’s return so they can all get back on track, as it were. But their plans are soon derailed when only one friend returns, covered in her boyfriend’s blood and screaming.
As they try to calm her enough to coax an explanation from her, the murder emerges on the road in the distance and makes his approach. They retreat to a nearby house to seek help and refuge from the killer, only to find out it’s currently unoccupied. Now presumably safe inside this house, they are set back on edge when an unexpected visitor raps angrily at the door. It turns out to a park ranger responding to an alarm call for a break-in at the very house they are now in.
They state their case as to why they so badly needed to gain entry to the house, and while not completely convinced the ranger decides to help. And just as they are just about to catch a ride to the station with the ranger, the killer is seen standing by the truck he has just disabled with the spark plug cables in hand.
Now the group is basically rapped inside the house, unable to leave for fear of being hacked or slashed to death by a killer suffering from deep rooted grandpa issues. Ultimately, what will they have to do in order to escape and reach safety?
The collaboration of Brian and Johnna Troxell on the script for this movie produced a story that is rather weak and humdrum. The characters have no depth and the dialogue was unremarkable. It moved at a snails ace which is an astounding feat given the run time. The Killer’s back story is a bit of a cliche, as they deliver yet another damaged child who grows up to be a killer. This killer’s motivation is given to us in very brief scenes, as his very provincial and angry grandpa makes him watch while sadistically torturing and killing the boy’s mother, and pretty much anybody else he felt was deserving. With a run time of roughly 1 hour and 12 minutes, certainly there was some time to expand upon or provide development of the story as a whole.
The acting left quite a bit to be desired and at times it felt as if I was watching a soap opera, where the characters were being stalked by a machete killer. Fear, peril, urgency…these are all very real human emotions that were conspicuously absent from the main group of actors except for one. Russ Forga is the one cast member who gave a solid performance, as his delivery never came across as forced or insincere.
Jason Sutton, as The Killer, is a completely one dimensional villain. His character is basically, a mute, backwoods cracker, with an exaggerated evil glare, peering out from under long hair over his face, whilst carrying a machete, while following in his grandpa’s psychotic footsteps. Yeah, that was a mouthful. If this character was supposed to possess that Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers “force of nature quality”, he fell WELL short of the mark. Joel D Wynkoop, as Grandpa, was chaotic, blustery, obnoxious and annoying. This character was the equivalent of the Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil (that’s Taz to you and me, Rusty) wielding implements of torture and death, while spouting psycho babble and profanity…and not in a good way.
I will have to say that Paul Steward did a great job as cinematographer and editor on this movie. The shot composition and camera work in general were well done, as was the editing.
When it came to the practical effects, I was utterly unimpressed. Especially during an early scene where a victim is having her abdomen cut into with a saw, but a few seconds later you can see absolutely no cut marks, just a faint and very fake looking blood stain where it should have been. Some of the kill or torture scenes were he equivalent of low grade torture porn and some were just completely contrived and badly acted. There was one really impressive kill, but it was too little too late.
One Night of Fear doesn’t even turn out to be an hour and 12 minutes of fear, and therefore I give it 4 / 10. So if you have 1 hour and 12 minutes to kill, I say don’t do it…grant it a pardon and skip this movie.