Ultimately, Fall is a tense adventure that will get you on the edge of your seat, especially if you have any kind of fear of heights. However, it suffers a little from the familiar structure of the story and from some of the foolish decisions that the two leads make.
Written by Jonathan Frank, Scott Man
Directed by Scott Mann
Review by: Mark Walker
Experience a heart-pounding tale of survival from the producers of 47 Meters Down where sacrifice may just be the only way out. A fast drop and a sudden stop awaits Becky (Grace Caroline Currey, Shazam!) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner, Halloween) as they find themselves trapped 2,000 feet up an abandoned radio tower in the desert. (IMDB)
Still suffering a year after the death of her husband, Dan (Mason Gooding) in a mountainside fall, experienced climber Becky is on the edge. Estranged from her father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and her friends, she has hit rock bottom and can’t see any way out of the pit; apart, perhaps, via a pile of pills and a bottle of whiskey.
She is saved, last minute, by her best mate Hunter, a thrill-seeking, daredevil blogger who was with her when her husband died. Hunter is worried about Becky and has a plan to drag her out of her funk and back into the real world; by making her climb a 2000ft communications tower. I’m all for ripping the band-aid off, but when you haven’t climbed for the best part of a year and a sign leading to the tower reads “No Trespassing Danger of Death” I think a pizza and movie would be a better place to start your recovery.
Anyway, ignoring signs and all common sense, Hunter eggs Becky on until she can’t refuse to climb an abandoned, rusty structure in the middle of nowhere, just to prove a point. I’m not against people wanting to seek excitement and challenge in life, but if these girls had watched a few more films in their time, they would have turned back; have people learned nothing from Aron Ralston? Tell someone where you are going!! Everything about this trip screams “Don’t!”
Anyway, you wouldn’t have much of a film if common sense prevailed and, let’s face it, for a film like this we NEED people to not think about consequences too much!
Obviously, everything turns bad once they reach the top and a series of mishaps finds them trapped on a tiny platform, 2000ft above the ground. With no water, no food, and no cell phone service, Becky and Hunter need all their cunning and climbing experience to work out how to get down and save themselves from either starving or falling to their deaths.
This is a great premise and a bit bonkers. I only say a bit as I am sure there are lunatics out there as I type this, probably doing some similarly sketchy shit for kicks! Fall is a pretty good cautionary tale for anyone else and, for someone like me who does have a very real fear of heights, it’s an effective prophylaxis against climbing anything higher than the stairs to bed. The scenes that follow Becky and Hunter as they climb the tower are nerve-wracking and dizzying for anyone who has a similar wariness of heights. Rusty bolts, shaky ladders, high winds, and shoddy safety precautions make for a very tense sequence. You know something is going to go bad, but you just don’t know when.
I’m surprised it doesn’t go south a lot earlier to be honest as, and I will admit I am not a climbing expert, it doesn’t seem particularly safe to embark on climbing 2000ft of rusty ladder without any sort of safety rope. Yes, the women are secured to each other with a rope, but how does that stop them falling? It’s this blatant disregard for health and safety that gets them into trouble and, quite frankly, you wonder if they deserve it.
Well, maybe Hunter does as she really is a dick friend, pushing and goading Becky into doing something she really doesn’t want to do. A good friend would turn back half-way when their buddy was crying their eyes out in fear, but not Hunter, she’s on the ‘hunt’ for some social media clicks and really does seem to think this is the best way to cheer Becky up. Throw in some one-handed showboating and ladder shaking for good measure and you really do wonder why anyone would give her the time of day, let alone follow her up that ladder.
Still, she did give Becky the idea of spreading her husband’s ashes from the top of the tower, so maybe that chance at closure is what drives Becky to the top? Personally, however, I would still look for a nice pond, or hillside as a suitable resting place for a loved one.
I feel I’m rambling now… perhaps I’m still a bit light-headed from the climb?
Fall is a mixed bag. The climb is really well done (apart from the dodgy H&S) and tense and I found myself with firmly clenched buttocks on more than one occasion as I shared Becky’s panic. However, once they get to the top of the tower, and find themselves trapped, I did find myself struggling a bit with some of the action.
I’m not saying I would be a hero in this situation. To be fair, after a day of no rescue and no water, my lack of upper body and core strength would leave me with little option than to throw myself off the edge to save prolonging the agony. However, Becky and Hunter are clearly experts. The opening sequence follows them free-climbing and shows they are incredibly good at what they do. Dan’s death was the result of a freak accident, not their skill.
So, I expected them to be a little more resourceful than they sometimes appeared to be.
At one point in the movie (mild spoiler) Hunter hangs below Becky trying to grab a rope suspend from the central column you can see on the poster and Hunter is struggling to reach the rope. Not because it is too high, but because it is out of reach around the pole. The pole is round… just move the rope. But no, she goes for the jump.
I appreciate this adds tension (and anyone with a fear of heights will enjoy that leap) but there are a few moments like this where I just struggled with my suspension of disbelief. How could these too experienced climbers be so foolish when it came to… climbing?
I’m maybe being a bit harsh as Fall is really about making the audience tense and unsettled, putting the fear of falling in you and dragging you along for the ride. And it does that very well. I just personally struggled with a few of the decisions they made. I can accept people doing daft things like climbing a rusty old tower, as I said, people do this stuff in real life. I just struggled to suspend my disbelief when experienced climbers seem to forget they are experienced climbers.
Then again, I have never been stuck on a platform 2000ft above the ground with no apparent chance of rescue so it’s easy for me to be smart!
Fall is a fairly predictable romp that follows a well-worn path for such films, but that is not always a terrible thing and there are still surprises along the way. There will be a number of comparisons made to 47 Meters Down which comes from the same producers and follows a similar pattern (maybe too similar in one sense), but which will still leave you fairly unsure as to the friends’ fate until the end of the movie.
The cast is small, and we obviously spend the majority of the running time in the company of Becky and Hunter, most other characters, even Becky’s father, being fairly incidental to the overall plot. But Grace and Virginia do a great job of the heavy lifting for the movie’s run time. I felt it would have been a bit tighter if it had been closer to 90 minutes, but that may well be nit-picking at this point.
Ultimately, Fall is a tense adventure that will get you on the edge of your seat, especially if you have any kind of fear of heights. However, it suffers a little from the familiar structure of the story and from some of the foolish decisions that the two leads make. I’m probably being a bit harsh as I am reviewing the movie but, if you are prepared to forgive it its flaws, Fall will entertain.
Oh, and I need to find out what mobile phone Becky uses; the battery on that thing is a beast!
FALL is exclusive to cinemas in the UK from September 2nd, 2022