USA / English
2022 / 106 Minutes
Director: Scott Mann
Cast: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner
Mason Gooding, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Darrell Dennis
Release date: August 12, 2022
Two thousand feet above the ground, stuck on a radio tower with no way down, comes the survival thriller Fall.
For best friends Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner), life is all about conquering fears and pushing limits. However, after they climb 2,000 feet to the top of a remote, abandoned radio tower, they find themselves stranded with no way down. Now, their expert climbing skills are put to the ultimate test as they desperately fight to survive the elements, a lack of supplies, and vertigo-inducing heights.
A year following the accidental demise of Becky’s husband Dan (Mason Gooding), who fell to his death following an accident of a rock face while mountain climbing, Becky’s best friend Hunter returns from a prolonged absence to try and lure Becky away from an alcohol fueled funk that she has been in following Dan’s death. Not even Becky’s father is able to reach her and it takes Hunter quite a bit of work to convince Becky to come along on her newest climb; an abandoned two-thousand foot tall radio tower.
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Of course, things go awry once atop the tower that stands twice the height of the Eiffel Tower. The ageing and unmaintained structure is in disarray, its ladder is crumbling and rust has taken ahold of it— leaving the pair stranded well above sight, and fighting against the elements and time, without food or water, for survival.
Warming: Potential spoilers from here on in.
For such a simple plot, Fall is able to create an interesting story rife with good suspenseful moments and scenes that are seriously nerve-wracking – especially to folk like me that aren’t all that comfortable with heights. This film was originally planned to be a short film, but there isn’t any feeling that the idea was stretched too thin here. In fact, the film is well-paced and the runtime elapses rather quickly. There are times when a feature that runs less than two hours is a blessing as not everybody has an ample amount of time to dedicate to screen time.
However, there are quite a collection of plot holes and moments that don’t make one iota of sense. The majority of what happens is preluded to early on and the events of the film are quite obviously coming before they actually happen. Vultures consuming the corpse of an unlucky animal, a short clip of Becky dancing up and down a stripper pole, the obvious love-life plot twist and to top it off; a ridiculously implausible set of scenes where electronics are charged in a lightbulb socket. The juiciest of the two having Becky hanging by her fingertips, two thousand feet about the ground while she charges up a drone. The strongest human on earth wouldn’t be able to put up such a display of strength. And that isn’t taking into account all the hints and obvious preludes as to what is to come such as nuts and bolts coming lose as they climb the tower.
Then there’s the lack of damage sustained throughout Fall despite the elements that the duo face – no sun burns or signs of the suffering the two undergo, which to me is a shame as such a thing would have helped build the animosity and create a heightened sense of empathy with the protagonists. Still, given the sets on which the film is shot, I found it remarkable that I never once questioned the setting. The cinematography is well crafted and believable and as much as I shouldn’t admit it; even the thought of climbing something so massive and dangerous is something my younger self can relate too. Not on this scale, admittedly.
Our two main characters are both skilled mountain climbers, yet their ascent up the two-thousand foot tall radio tower is filled with mistakes. Both are wearing climbing harnesses yet neither clip onto to anything along the perilous ascent. And surely, they would have approached the feat with more than a single carabiner and but one fifty-foot long rope. Hell, one of the two is wearing Converse for the climb – and anybody that has ever rocked a pair of Chuck’s knows that if you step on a tiny pebble, you’ll feel it. Hardly the shoe to use for such an event.
I’ll admit, the premise of one of the two main characters being a social media influencer had me rolling my eyes, as I generally find that type of person to be largely irritating – yet that wasn’t the case here as Hunter isn’t as annoying as I had anticipated her to be. Instead, there is a well plotted side story where the two friends attempt to find why Hunter is the danger loving, adrenaline seeking narcissist that she clearly is. When your cast is just two main characters and a few others that don’t get much screen time, you need there to be some sort of chemistry, and Becky and Hunter certainly have that. Through this dialogue we arrive at the smaller of the two plot twists I alluded to earlier.
I really want to know who makes the cellphones that are used by our unlucky duo, as they seem to have battery life that far, far succeeds my own phone. Given that the pair spent a considerable amount of time in the early going recording videos to upload to their social media accounts, and still had power days into the film, is… suspect at best. The most annoying part of the film, comes curtesy of Lionsgate films. Lionsgate wanted to release the film in theatres and to appease the Motion Picture Association, had the crew change or remove over thirty uses of the word “fuck” from the film. This was of course to earn a PG-13 rating instead of an R-rating. Come on. If I was stuck two thousand feet up in the air with no way down, I can assure you, I wouldn’t be using words like frig or any of the other lame safe versions of cuss words. If you’re going to cuss, cuss and get it over with. Jeez!
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There is a twist later on in Fall that I didn’t see coming, though. One that eliminates some of my qualms with the film’s plot and implausible scenarios – but you’ll have to watch for yourself to see what that is. All I’ll say is that this late twist took away my major gripe with the story and for that, I am relieved. Despite all the glaring plot holes, there is a lot to like here, and several scenes offer up some serious vertigo even from the small screen. If you are able to turn off your brain, ignore logic and rational thought for a short while, then Fall is a fun film and would be of interest to the b-movie crowd. This is a popcorn flick that if not scrutinized like I seem to have done, is rather tense and enjoyable.