Fall (2022) In Love with This “Elevated” Horror
First Non-Festival Release: August 11, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Scott Mann
Writer: Jonathan Frank, Scott Mann
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Starring: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mason Gooding
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Becky (Grace Caroline Currey), Hunter (Virginia Gardner), and Becky’s husband (Mason Gooding) are enjoying their assent of the face of a mountain when one wrong move leaves Becky a widow. Nearly one year later, Becky is depressed, drinking herself into a stupor every day. Hunter returns to ask Becky to accompany her on a bucket list trip to scale a secluded radio tower in the middle of the desert. She posits that if Becky can face her fears of climbing, she’ll be able to move on and celebrate her husband’s life instead of constantly mourning his death. She reluctantly agrees and it’s not long before the duo scale the peak. One wrong move, however, leads to disaster, trapping them 2,000 feet in the sky without any hope of reaching the Earth in one piece.
Breath-taking action sequences and a novel premise help elevate Fall to dizzying new heights in contained thrills.
When reading the premise of Fall, it’s easy to think of how little there is to do convincingly at the top of a staggeringly high tower on a small platform. This film manages to keep the action taut and distinctly in the present. There are very few uses of flashbacks to pad the runtime. Instead, Fall dedicates most of its runtime to Hunter and Becky discerning how they can make it out alive. Of course, there are a few hallucination and dream sequence moments that do wear their welcome quickly. It’s heartening to see such focus paid to crafting consistent suspense without undermining the foundation of the story.
At its core, Fall is about empowerment and forgiveness. The script never fails to take its time to remind the audience just how much growth Becky has during her time on the tower and how important it is for her to push through and survive. She learns to forgive herself for her inaction and stagnancy in life while forgiving others for their parts in hurting her over the last year.
While on their own, Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner deliver fine performances, together they play off each other to make their relationship feel authentic. It’s clear that Hunter’s pushiness and drive coaxes Becky into a situation she is uncomfortable with, and Becky’s desperation for control forces herself to go along with the plan anyway. The dynamic itself is interesting and could have been explored more than the cliché route the writers take with their character progression.
Director Scott Mann does an excellent job at creating, maintaining, and building the suspense in this fun and nerve-wracking film. The initial ladder fall scene is dizzying enough, but Mann has several surprises in store to show that these two women are not content to give up without a fight. As each path is taken to get down to safety, the stakes manage to get even higher as their options run out, as do their supplies. It cannot be understated how disorienting this vertigo-inducing thriller gets. This reviewer’s palms started sweating in the first five minutes and did not stop until the film finished. Torturously long in the best way, Fall knows its strengths and sticks to them.
It’s clear that cinematographer MacGregor had a grand time filming Fall, and credit should be due to the stomach-dropping tension wrought every time the camera flicks and turns. Every shot ekes a considerable amount of suspense within tiny moments that the film becomes unbearable in the best way. From wide shots panning to show how isolated the women are to tilts that demonstrate how one wrong move could spell the end. Aside from a few visibly artificial moments, Fall looks as crazy as it sounds.
Fall doesn’t break the mold of contained horror thrillers, but it does deliver anxiety inducing tension and thrills. Making use of its limited setting, Fall lifts its material without venturing too far out of the realm of possibility. While it certainly relies on some tired plot devices, particularly with character’s relationships, it still manages to keep the viewer on edge, waiting for the next frustrating failed attempt to escape. Above all, Currey and Gardner’s chemistry sell the duo as panicked best friends making the best through difficult circumstances and hurtful revelations. If you love watching movies that force you to confront the human fear of heights, you’ll Fall in love with this offering from Lionsgate.
Overall Score? 7.5/10