Directed by Scott Mann
Warning: Very slight spoilers you would just pick up from watching the trailer.
Well then, Fall is a film I initially couldn’t care less about when I first saw the poster advertising on the internet. Why? Well, it bore the legend “From the producers of 47 Metres Down” which, frankly, I thought was pretty unremarkable and not something I would want to waste my time with again (I still haven’t bothered with the sequel... maybe I’ll get around to that one day). However, two things came to light about this movie which, for better or worse, made me change my mind...
One was that the always brilliant Alan Jones said it was a sensational movie and selected it to play in this years marvellous FrightFest. So if I was going to take a recommendation from anyone it was going to be him. Secondly, when I watched the trailer, I realised that I really liked the lead actress. The lead of the two main protagonists here, Becky Connor, is played by none other as Grace Caroline Currey, who was an absolutely brilliant version of Mary Marvel/Mary Batson/Mary Bromley in “The Original Captain Marvel” movie SHAZAM! And if you don’t know who Mary Marvel is and why she’s Captain Marvel’s brother, read my review of that first movie here where she’s billed under her previous acting name of Grace Fulton. She’s pretty amazing in that and also in this too... so, yeah, now I had two reasons to see the film. So, you know, I did.
The film starts off with a scene where Becky, her husband Dan (played, briefly, by Mason Gooding) and their best friend Hunter (played by Virginia Gardner) are climbing a mountain and Dan falls to his death. One year on from that... or 51 weeks on, actually, according to the on screen legend... Becky is a complete mess, draining her sorrows in alcohol, estranged from her loving father (played by the great Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and about to end her life with a rather sloppily executed and ‘doomed to fail’ (it has to be said) overdose of pills and whisky. Then her friend Hunter, absent for a year... err.... 51 weeks... turns up on her doorstep and says she needs to pull her life back together, lose the fear and climb a huge radio tower in the middle of nowheresville desert land which also happens to be the fourth tallest structure in America. There are ladders going up about two thirds of the way and then another hard climb after those. And so they do.
Now I’ve never really understood why people would be stupid enough to put themselves in harms way just to climb something tall and so, honestly, everything which happens to these two just makes me cross my arms, after wagging my finger and saying, “You’ve only got yourselves to blame.” And, once they’re up the top (not including the thin spire but, yeah, that comes later as a survival attempt), after lots of vertigo inducing shots of shaking, unstable metal structures, wobbly screws about to come undone at any second plus aggressive buzzards, not to mention the constant stops and hurdles of Becky’s emotional baggage... the inevitable happens and the ladders all fall away from the mast, leaving the girls stranded miles from nowhere, up a very, very tall structure with no phone signal because of their current height. The rest of the movie details how they attempt to survive and try and get out of this mess.
And... okay, I had a relatively fun time with it, I would say. There are some terrible moments such as a certain twist on the relationship between the three original mountain climbers which, honestly, I can’t say I wasn’t expecting... I’ve been kinda conditioned to expect certain complications in modern thrillers over the last 20 or so years (this guy must be a fan of The Descent... and who isn’t?). That being said, there was at least one twist towards the end which I didn’t see coming outright although I could see the inspiration for this sudden revelation for Becky too so, it was an easy one to accept once it was brought to light (um... yeah... I did say I think this guy must be a fan of The Descent, right?). One of the nice things about that is that there were two sequences in the film with the usual, ‘it’s not all that bad, it was just a dream’ wake up moments and, by the time we got to the second one, I was sick and tired of the old ‘waking moments’ cheap shot cliché being used more than once in a movie but, when you get to the final reveal, it actually makes more sense that the director is trying to condition the audience to that kind of mentality in order to pull off the last, falling brick of a twist more acceptably... so, yeah, I can see why he did it like that.
And all in all, the film is very well acted, especially by the two female leads who you stay with pretty much for the entire movie (I think it only cuts away to another location very briefly twice towards the end of the film). Everyone was good in this, the cinematography was great, the CGI effects were awesome (because I refuse to believe the director would put his actors in this much peril in real life and removing and so... replacing vertigo inducing heights and safety equipment must surely have been done with the aid of a computer) and, all in all, I’d say that Fall was an entertaining piece of movie making which I’d probably recommend to most people.
That being said, a word of caution about censorship and the lengths studios will go to in order to get bigger profits. The original cut of the movie apparently had a lot of usage of the ‘f word’ in it. However, in order to drop it to a lower, kid friendly age rating to grab more money, the studio redubbed the lines without the f***s and then resynched the actors mouths via the magic of CGI. I didn’t notice this myself but I am aggrieved that the original cut of the movie was not used. This is where the ‘art’ of the movie gives way to the ‘movie business’ and when it loses that battle, it loses its soul.
My only other big question about the film is this... on the end credits it shows that Becky, her father and her late husband all have the same surname of Connor. Now the only possibilities I can think of for this bizarre state of affairs is that either Becky was in a strangely unlikely and coincidental dating situation at one point where she met and fell in love with someone with the exact same surname as her (and her father) or... she got incestuous and married her own brother. I’m not sure which one of these two options is more likely in real life but, yeah, it seems a bizarre set of credits and it just poses questions that one really doesn’t want to ponder, it has to be said. Still, Fall is a pretty good movie which, I can’t imagine watching a second time but was worth looking at once. Like one of Bugs Bunny’s weaponised carrots, I suspect it’s only good for one shot.