I’m not afraid of heights. However, as I watched Fall with bated breath, I felt chills and quivers in my back and my legs which I’ve never felt before. Watching the movie’s climb-savvy leads (wayward friends played by Grace Fulton and Virginia Gardner) scale a 2,000 radio tower in the middle of the desert was enough for me to clasp my armrest. Watching them dangle from the tower after being stranded at the top was a whole other level of thrills (and anxiety).
Leading up to that dangerous climb, however, is an endurance test for the audience. Screenwriters Jonathan Frank and Scott Mann paint with heavy brushes of foreshadowing, setting up that everything our leads witness will come into play during their experience at the top of the tower. A few of these add a suspense element to the story, a truckload of them makes the movie sillier than it should be. Speaking of foreshadowing, there’s also a similar traumatic event that kicks off Fall that is discouraging to the viewer. The special effects (notably the instances of obvious cut-and-paste chroma key) are not truly convincing, and the story is exaggerated melodrama (including Jeffrey Dean Morgan downplaying his acting capabilities by portraying a stock caricature of a concerned father).
However, and pardon the pun, Fall is pretty much all upwards when our climbers are in the air. Director Mann (2015’s Heist) handles the bottled nature of this thriller well. For a film with a limited location and a two-hander dynamic, Fall perseveres through its challenges and consistently delivers suspense and mystery. The quality of the writing and the filmmaking still waffles though: the inferior effects return here-and-there, a surprising yet slightly farfetched twist shocks the audience, and the ending cops out by refusing to some some key shots.
But, despite its flaws, I would definitely revisit Fall soon, preferably in a movie theatre. It does a good job pulling movie goers forward and using their own doubt, fear, and morbid fascination to build towards the big question: “what is going to happen next?”.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie