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‘Fall’ (Blu-ray review)

Lionsgate

Fall is a vertigo-inducing thriller that will leave you breathless…. let me try that again.

Fall is a thrill-a-minute heartstopper that will keep you on the edge of your seat….NO, that’s still not quite right.

Last try, Fall is a movie that will terrify normal people but if you even have a mild fear of heights, it will scar you for the rest of your life.  Yeah, that’s right.

The story of Fall written by Jonathan Frank and Scott Mann (who also directed) is simple enough: thrill seekers decide to climb the ultimate structure only to find themselves stuck at the top with no way down.

There’s some emotional stuff reminiscent of Stallone’s 1993 hit Cliffhanger, even some tender scenes with Jeffrey Dean Morgan who tries to help his daughter out of her grief, but mostly Fall is about the fear of, well, falling.

As with most high concept movies it’s all in the execution. Scott Mann manages to very convincingly put us on top of that tower with Becky and Hunter played with marvelous intensity by Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner. The best part of this film was I so often forgot I was watching a film at all. I was so unnerved at times I had to take frequent breaks while watching this before I allowed myself to look again.

Despite the cameo by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a handful of other actors, Fall is essentially a three-character movie: the grief-stricken Becky, the adrenaline junkie Hunter, and the tower itself. The tower in question, the B67 TV tower, is a weather-beaten rusty metal needle twice the height of the Eiffel Tower. Although the tower is out of commission it still has a red blinking light so planes will see it at night. While the B67 is not an actual place it’s based on several real-life structures that have become favorite targets of base jumpers and thrill seekers from all over the world despite being decidedly off limits.

Mann’s tower visuals resemble the first ten minutes of any Final Destination film. Showing rickety ladders held by threads of rusty bolts ready to crumble at any second are more than cringeworthy. Couple that with other real-world issues of intense desert heat, no mobile phone signal, and circling vultures waiting for their seemingly inevitable meal, Becky and Hunter are faced with an impossible dilemma. While most viewers would never find themselves in such an insane circumstance it doesn’t weaken your sympathy for the film’s leads.

The various visual breadcrumbs left by Mann, all of which come deftly into play, would ultimately be nothing without the emotional journey of Becky and Hunter. Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner, who more than appear up to the physical challenge of looking like skilled climbers, are also very good actors. Becky, struggling from grief, exhaustion, and fear, is played with a desperate grace by Currey. It would be very easy to see Becky as a weak sobbing mess but Currey embodies a dignity to her desperation that is both refreshing and honest. Gardner, as the adrenaline-fueled Instagram vlogger, brilliantly splits the difference between “that friend” and a girl-power warrior. The vibe they manage together is both intimate and determined. I look forward to seeing what both actresses have coming up in the future.

Extras include commentary, featurette, music video, and trailer.

Perhaps the greatest thing about Fall is its use of practical effects. The production opted to build a portion of the tower on top of a mountain instead of utilizing green screen. This more than lends itself to the raw authenticity evoked throughout the film.

Fall is hands down one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen.

What makes it so terrifying is that, unlike most October horror films filled with balloon-holding clowns or rubber-masked monsters, the terror comes from circumstance, not superstition. The viewer lives and dies with the choices Becky and Hunter make to survive often wondering, “Would I have thought of that?”

 

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Christian Mercuri, James Harris,
Mark Lane, Scott Mann, David Haring
Written by Scott Mann, Jonathan Frank
Directed by Scott Mann
Starring Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner,
Mason Gooding, Jeffrey Dean Morgan

 

 

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