A vertigo-inducing story of survival that will take you to new heights of tension.
Fall is a survival film about two young women who become trapped at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower in the middle of nowhere after the tower’s ladder breaks off. While it might seem like too simple a premise to be interesting, the presentation is a dizzying, tense journey that made my stomach knot up and palms sweat with its vertigo-inducing cinematography and terrifyingly plausible fight for survival. I haven’t felt this uncomfortable watching a movie since seeing 2005’s The Descent.
Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner) are best friends who are also experienced rock climbers. When Becky’s husband Dan (Mason Gooding) dies in a climbing accident, Becky becomes a depressed alcoholic while Hunter goes off to become an adrenaline junkie YouTuber. On the first anniversary of Dan’s death, Hunter invites Becky to climb an old 2,000-foot radio tower to help Becky find her confidence and to scatter Dan’s ashes – oh and to make another episode for her YouTube channel of course.
Things go terribly wrong when the girls reach the top of the tower and the aging ladder breaks off. Becky and Hunter now find themselves trapped on a tiny platform, 2,000 feet above the ground with limited supplies and no phone reception. Far from civilization, they will need to figure out a way to get down or get help before they succumb to the elements and the vultures who wait patiently for their next meal.
Grace Caroline Currey gives an emotional performance as Becky, the young widow who struggles to cope with her husband’s death and who has resorted to alcohol as a means to cope. With her husband’s ashes still unsealed in a postal package a year after his death and her anger at her father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) causing her to push him further away with each of his attempts to help her, Becky is an emotional mess.
To make things even worse, Becky’s fragile state is thrown into further chaos when the trip to a tower with her best friend that was meant to help her get past her fear and move forward with her grief, becomes a life and death situation as she fights for survival. Currey masterfully portrays her character’s emotional rollercoaster ride and easily carries this film that has a very small cast.
Virginia Gardner also gives a great performance as Hunter, Becky’s best friend who, after witnessing Dan’s death, realizes life is short so you need to make the most of the time you have on Earth. She’s the total opposite to Becky in personality to the point where it might seem that she’s overcompensating for something with her overly extroverted personality and her extreme-sport YouTube channel persona.
Gardner is perfectly cast opposite Currey and the two have great onscreen chemistry. While Currey’s character brings the darkness, Gardner lights up the screen with her positive attitude and abundance of energy. My only criticism is that while she gives a great performance with her dialogue and emotions, etc, she doesn’t have the physique of a person who regularly climbs – especially one who’s supposed to be making money from a social media channel where her whole thing is doing crazy/dangerous physical acts.
I found it detracting from her physical performance in her climbing scenes because it’s obvious by looking at her arms and shoulders that she isn’t really a professional rock climber. It’s a small thing but it’s still a thing.
Director Scott Mann (Final Score, Heist), who co-wrote with Jonathan Frank, has crafted an incredibly tense and nausea-inducing cinematic spectacle that doesn’t really have that much to it, other than its execution, which he totally nails. Beautifully shot in IMAX, Mann captures that knot-in-your-gut feeling you get if you’re scared of great heights – like myself.
With just two characters driving 90 percent of the story, he’s managed to create an engaging experience as our two heroes try to figure out how to get out of their situation without falling to their deaths or before they die of dehydration and exposure to the elements. It’s lots of problem solving with just enough drama thrown in and the exploration of themes surrounding friendship, loss and the human will to survive.
Fall is a fantastic survival film that earns every thrill it delivers, heightened thanks to its amazing cinematography, great performances from all the cast, and a simple yet engaging story. I’ll admit I already liked the premise before walking into the cinema, and I’m happy to report the film exceeded my expectations, easily becoming one of my favorite movies of the year.
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Release Date: August 12, 2022
- Distributor: Lionsgate
Originally published on August 22, 2022 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/movie-reviews/fall-2022/