Fall – Film Review
Fall is both aptly named for the new season and in relation to its subject matter as it traverses dizzying vertigo inducing heights with spectacular panoramic views. It is perhaps not the best film to watch on a plane, as this reviewer did, and may not be one for vertigo or acrophobia sufferers given its survivor style plot concerning rock climbers embarking on an extreme climb of an isolated 2000-foot radio tower against the elements.
Becky and Hunter are the best friends who decide to undertake this challenge for the ‘Gram and YouTube but it ultimately becomes a challenge testing their friendship, inner strength and an ultimate survival of the fittest battle. A simple plot but one that will leave your nerves shredded and your palms clammy as the film scales unreachable heights, literally and figuratively, with a plot that mainly lands but it is let down occasionally by clunky dialogue and a rushed ending. This, ultimately, leaves the film feeling like an impressive, over extended TV movie despite its promise.
Fall could be described as a Gen Z coming of age cross over between Mission Impossible and Cliffhanger with its death defying stunts. The film immerses us in the climbing prowess required by Becky and Hunter with close ups during their challenging pursuit. Of course, if the young women were as experienced with climbing, as Fall wishes the audience to believe, surely a site recce would have been performed especially where there is live streaming involved. But then, such a premise would be too logical and Fall would not last for much longer beyond its opening sequence as the characters make questionable choices that will encourage audiences to shout at the screen in frustration or else utter ‘nope’ to activities in their stead.
Unlike that other summer release Nope, where audiences were compelled not to look up at the skies and the characters were cautious, in Fall there is the opposite impact. The only way, shown in the film, to conquer those fears and to continue with the climb of a deserted, derelict tower is to keep looking up. What could possibly go wrong with that plan, in Fall, you might ask? Well, memories of scenes from the first Final Destination film might assist with that question but there are also moments within Fall that are reminiscent of the one location film, Buried, which is equally set out in the desert and anxiety inducing.
As such, Fall might appear to be predictable on a first glance. However, the film’s embrace of classic horror tropes, in the face of sporting danger, ratchet up the tension with authentic jump scares and nail-biting sequences. Plus, the sheer magnificence of the camerawork and the cinematography which zooms out effectively to demonstrate the remote location and the scale of the task ahead adds further layers of tension. The scenery looks mesmerising, as a result, despite this environment’s equal ability to be a source of anxiety, with dry desert like conditions, when Becky and Hunter’s plans start to go awry.
The decision by director Scott Mann to have scenes concluded by a fade to black further amplifies the anxiety and tension felt. Furthermore, Fall’s casual reminder that the Eiffel Tower is 1000 feet tall, and therefore half the size of their challenge, is an effective way by Mann to highlight the immensity of the task and provide the audience with a relatable scale.
Despite some of Fall’s cringe worthy moments, with its adoption of a YOLO (you only live once) philosophy to explain the motivations of its characters, it is impressive knowing that some of the characters performed their own stunts. There are moments in the camera angles when the sheer exertion, pressure and toil can be seen expressively on the face of Grace Caroline Currey as Becky. The camaraderie shared between her and co-star Virginia Gardner as Hunter is the substance that gives the film momentum when the film gets lost within the dialogue.
Fall lets itself down by resorting to caricatures as Hunter climbs in a push up bra à la Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider games and films. Its saving grace in those moments are its critique of Influencer culture and the desire to film perilous antics for that unique selfie.
Fall defies the elements and defies expectations to produce a compelling terror inducing thriller that will hypnotise audiences with beautiful shots of a remote Californian desert but will also induce fear for some. Mann has proved himself to be an effective director who will keep audiences thrilled and curious. It will be interesting to observe his future projects and his direction beyond Fall with a larger budget available.