The new adventure thriller Fall is simultaneously about letting go and holding on – two themes that run throughout the film. The Fall movie begins as many horrors do these days. A traumatizing incident and a grieving protagonist. ( “What happened to movies where kids are just having fun??” my husband jokingly asked.) But it’s a fair question. Grief and horror are connected, and the genre is reflecting that more than ever these days.
more of the Fall movie review below:
Fall starts with a Cliffhanger style opening. Husband and wife, Becky and Dan, and best friend Hunter are adventure seekers, climbing a mountain. But a freak accident occurs, and Dan falls and dies, leaving Becky stricken with grief, and depression.
Until almost a year later, when Hunter – whose ringtone is Sweet Cherry Pie – calls, and persuades her to finally climb again. But this time, The B67 BV Tower – a remote, abandoned radio tower.
Influencer, and live streamer Hunter at first refers to it as “once being the highest structure in the world.” But later, she calls it the fourth highest – highlighting her skill at charming manipulation.
After much coaxing, Becky eventually agrees under the pretense of finally scattering her husband’s ashes at the top. The two women try to recount Dan’s “life quote”, and Becky finally remembers it. “If you’re scared of dying, don’t be afraid of life.” With that, the two friends are climbing their way to the peak of the tower.
Fall movie is part Cliffhanger, part 47 Meters Down, and The Descent all rolled into one.
Under the layer of tension that builds are deeper issues of friendship, betrayal, and trust. Imagery of old nails slowly shaking loose evokes suspense and fear. The loud sound of squeaking, and the rattling of that rusty ladder -their only mode of transport.
Of course, in a Final Destination style set up, the ladder eventually breaks off completely. Leaving the women stranded at the top with no phone service, and no way back down.
Things get real fast. They have to worry about starvation, vultures, and sunburns. Yet, the real feat of bravery and strength will come from surviving the weight of their own friendship.
As expected, (at least to me that is – when earlier, Hunter showed a photo to Becky but wouldn’t share the identity of the hand in it) its revealed that Hunter and Dan had been having an affair. Apparently a passionate one that she broke off upon Becky and Dan’s engagement. She professes her apologies, but admits to being in love with him too.
The two women sit atop the small platform at the top of the tower 2000 feet off the ground while Becky finds this out with a discovery that feels very 90’s nostalgic for Generation X. She sees the tattoo 143 engraved on Hunter’s lower ankle – and recognizes it as symbolizing the phrase her once non committal husband used to say. 90’s kids that had beepers will already know without the exposition – 143 means I Love You.
So much of the cinematography in Fall is beautiful. But especially this particular nighttime scene, when the women are backlit by the red glow of the bulb pulsating from the top of the tower.
Foreshadowing the importance of that bulb later when they’re desperately fighting to survive.
I admittedly didn’t expect too much from Fall, but it surprised me. It had truly tense, and suspenseful moments. Particularly when Hunter repels down to the lower level to try and retain their drone and must figure out how to get back up to Becky. Some scenes seem totally improbable, and yet, other shots feel and look authentic enough to elicit real fear. Part of the tower – a real structure in the Mohave desert – was rebuilt, and other parts were CGI. But the perspective of the women makes their experience, and their fear, real. It’s something that director Scott Mann said was very important to him, while shooting the movie.
There are a few aspects to Fall that are predictable, and some obvious set ups to storylines that will return. However, as someone who prides herself on a ability to figure out film twists, this time, I didn’t see it coming. That alone warrants a positive review, and earns my respect.
Many times in the movie, the friends are shown from a far away distance sitting opposite each other. The profound image signifies their solitude, in their situation, and as friends. Facing obstacles from all sides.
Becky’s grief over the death of Dan, and the uncovered relationship between him and Hunter fuels her will to fight.
Ultimately, Fall is a survival thriller about friendship. Becky and Hunter have to find a way down. But they also have to find a way back to each other. More than that, it’s about moving forward, and facing what scares you the most so you can thrive later.
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