A tall tale
‘Fall’ is a new release from Lionsgate and brings with it a number of genre cliches, some bad special effects, and a rather brutal climax. The film surrounds characters Becky and Hunter played by Grace Caroline Currey and Virginia Gardner respectively. Becky is a recently widowed woman who lost her husband Dan, played by Mason Gooding, in a climbing accident. After a year of grieving, Becky still wallows in her thoughts about Dan and cannot seem to move on. To remedy this her friend Hunter suggests that they climb a 2,000-foot tower in the middle of nowhere. Becky reluctantly agrees and the pair set off for what will turn out to be a harrowing journey full of height-induced anxiety.
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This film falls into the genre of films that for the most part take place in one location and surround a character or characters who are stuck in that one location. Recent films like ‘47 Meters Down’ and ‘The Shallows’ along with older films such as ‘The Thing’ come to mind as films that, at least in premise, ‘Fall’ resembles. But unlike a film like ‘The Thing’, ‘Fall’ does not manage to escape the limitations set by this particular genre and instead stays stuck in a realm where the only thing that matters is how the main characters will escape the situation which they find themselves in. This leaves a film that is full of attempts to get the ground that the audience already knows will fail up until the film’s end. The characters do not have the depth which is required for the audience to care about them which results in the subplot of the film feeling flat and simply something that does not matter in the long run.
Apart from this, however, ‘Fall’ does indeed contain a number of sequences that brought my anxiety to a whole new level. Where this film fails in story and characters it succeeds in establishing a few scenes scattered throughout the film’s runtime which truly will bring you to the edge of your seat. In short, ‘Fall’ is no masterpiece and certainly unoriginal but it does at times play with the film’s location effectively as Becky and Hunter seem to constantly hover over the edge of death. This is without a doubt not only the film’s main selling point but also the strongest aspect of the film as a whole. It is these moments that carry the film entirely. But the problem is that these moments only occur a few and far between.
Becky and Hunter
The rest of the film is full of moments where the story attempts to develop characters that the audience only knows a handful of things about. It seems as if these characters, namely Becky and Hunter, entire personality is that Becky is sad over her husband’s death and Hunter is attempting to bring her back to her former prime. That’s it. That is who these characters are, plain and simple. On paper, everything that these characters do in this film is built around these roles. This of course is a huge problem. We do not know enough about Becky to care about her problems and as a result, we do not care about Hunter’s attempts to console her either. This leaves the audience feeling bored when the story tries to flesh out the characters of Becky and Hunter. All it leaves are sets of empty dialogue which are supposed to be full of feeling and sentiment.
This altogether is a huge problem for ‘Fall’ especially because of the kind of movie that ‘Fall’ is. With ‘Fall’ being a one-location film there is naturally more attention paid to the main characters and their dynamics in the film’s story and when these dynamics are poor, as is the case in ‘Fall’, the result is exponentially more severe than in an otherwise normal film. The characters in ‘Fall’ fail to provide the film with the backbone that it needs to withstand the cutthroat genre in which the film stands in. For a film like this to succeed the characters and their backgrounds need to be strong and interesting and in ‘Fall’, Becky and Hunter are simply unengaging and, while relatable, uninteresting. There is not enough given to the audience to make them care about Becky or Hunter. In the end all there is the dire situation in which they find themselves in the film, and that is certainly not enough to carry an entire movie. Thus, as a result, ‘Fall’ fails to pack a real punch.
Other areas of ‘Fall’
Before I take my leave there were a few other aspects of ‘Fall’ that I wanted to touch on in this review. The first is the twist that sets off the third act of the film. Fear not, as I will not spoil this aforementioned twist, but simply touch on my feelings about it. To be brief, this twist is a major weak point in ‘Fall’. It is something which may be unexpected but something which has been done over and over again in similar films to ‘Fall’. The twist adds nothing to the story and only works to add a quick jolt of “what?” to the audience before they move on and forget that it ever happened in the first place. It is unnecessary and honestly clearly only there in an attempt to make the film feel more interesting and nuanced than it really is.
The second talking point which I wanted to elaborate on is the film’s unexpectedly brutal finale. Surprisingly, I was actually very pleased by this finale and thought that it was creative and, again, insanely gut-wrenching. While I may be overhyping it a little it is honestly worth the price of admittance to see exactly how they go about their final attempt to get off of the 2,000 towers that Becky and Hunter find themselves stuck atop. I guarantee you will not be able to guess this finale and that it will leave your jaw on the dirty theater floor.
‘Fall’ as a whole
All in all, I would not recommend spending your hard-earned money to go and see ‘Fall’. While the ending may be brutally interesting and while there may be fleeting moments of pure height-driven anxiety, the film as a whole fails fundamentally at being a good movie. The characters are underdeveloped and the story dies a slow dull death as the film trudges along its bloated 107-minute runtime. Drop your expectations and you may have a good time, especially with that ending, but otherwise, you will no doubt be disappointed by ‘Fall’.
Make sure to check out another thrilling new film in ‘Beast’ starring Idris Elba which releases on August 19, 2022.
Director: Scott Mann
Writers: Jonathan Frank and Scott Mann
Producers: Scott Man, Mark Lane, James Harris, David Haring, Christian Mercuri, Ashley Waldron, and Roman Viaris-de-Lesegno
Cast: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, and Mason Gooding
By Nathaniel Lee
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