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They call him the “Picasso Killer”, an artist of sorts, roaming Winston-Salem, North Carolina for inspiration. Fall Down Dead, revolving around the “Picasso Killer” and his pursuit of artistic perfection through human flesh, tries to present a unique storyline with old-school, Hitchcock-era style. But the film, directed by Jon Keyees, is not able to do either.
The “Picasso Killer”, played by famous genre actor Udo Kier (he was named “Vampire of the Millennium” by Fangoria Magazine), is an ego-driven artist who wants to secure a place in history. He navigates a small urban town and kills, using skin, flesh, limbs in his artwork. The killer’s vision is fueled by a reoccurring image of a woman, a woman whose face would be the culmination of his work.
Although merely an image in his mind, this face belongs to an actual person—Christie (Dominique Swain), a single mother working two jobs so that she can move to the country with her daughter one day. On her way home, on Christmas Eve, a troubling encounter with a local homeless man leads her to a murder scene with all, where the “Picasso Killer” is ready to kill her also. Instead, she manages to run away and find refuge in a nearby building when a dense, lumbering doorman (David Carradine) lets her in.
Soon, two detectives Stefan (Mehmet Gunsur) and Lawerance (R. Keith Harris) show up, put the place on lock-down. But the Picasso Killer makes his way into the building, comitting a series of murders to get to Christie.
There are very few moments of intensity throughout Fall Down Dead and there are several reasons for that. The idea of a Picasso Killer is somewhat intriguing, but not executed properly. While Udo Kier’s presence is strong, it is hardly overwhelming. His character’s development, along with the development of the other characters and the plot, is stifled at a very early stage.
Dominique Swain provides us with moments of sheer terror, expressed solely through her eyes, tear-filled and nearly popping out. Yet, the other performances fall flat. David Carradine seems very uncomfortable playing uncomfortable and Mehmet Gunsur’s portrayal of a troubled, pill-popping cop from Italy has little concentration and no force.
There are several small but grating things throughout the film. For instance, why is Christie’s daughter dressed like a modern-day Oliver Twist? Other parts work okay, like the score. But the sum falls flat—alleyways, winds, creepy eyes and a decent score are simply not enough.
Sanela Djokovic is a writer living in the Bronx
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