Release Date – 2nd September 2022, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 47 minutes, Director – Scott Mann
When the ladder of the broadcast tower they’ve been climbing falls, two friends (Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner) find themselves stuck on a small platform 2000ft up in the middle of nowhere.
“You freakin’ genius” Hunter (Virginia Gardner) says to her friend Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) as another idea of how to potentially get down from the 2000ft high platform they’re trapped on springs to mind. It’s a statement which leads the viewer to once again think ‘no, you fools!’, but it’s the stupid ideas of the two central (and for a large portion of time only) characters which move Fall along.
The film follows the pair as they’re stranded on a small platform on top of an out-of-use television tower in the middle of the desert six hours away from where they live. Their attempt to climb the tower, where the ladder has fallen away shortly after reaching the top, marks the one year anniversary of the passing of Becky’s husband Dan (Mason Gooding), who died after falling during a mountain climbing trip that the three were on. In that year Becky has isolated herself from the world and those around her, especially her now-distant father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and only really visiting a nearby bar. In an attempt to get her best friend to confront her fears Hunter turns up to take her on another climbing expedition, something nice and easy.
This is at least to what she herself has been doing in the past year as her danger-based YouTube channel has grown. She acknowledges that her online persona is “a d!ck”, however there are certain moments – particularly in the first half of the film – where her actions outside of filming strike the same feeling. Largely when willing – feeling more like pressuring – Becky to keep climbing when she’s clearly very scared and still coping with her grief amongst many other things. As they struggle past aerials and slightly loose ladders this feeling plays into the thoughts of knowing that this is going to go wrong, otherwise there wouldn’t really be much of a film here.
There’s certainly a slight sense of atmosphere to help get across the height that the pair are at. It comes across in the sound of the wind rushing past them, and the occasional creak of the tower. Such points are much more effective than the less subtle sequence of close-ups and noises which shout that something is going to go wrong, piling on emphasis of the danger that’s being experienced. All this after being told multiple times just how high the structure is – the fourth highest in the US, apparently – even some of the visuals feel as if they’re telling rather than showing. Yet, there’s no denying the effect that certain moments have. There are still elements of tension on display, gasps and potential yelps as new ideas are come up with as to how to potentially get back to the safety of the ground without being attacked by circling vultures or simply falling.
Despite the various flaws and issues that are on display, including a slight subplot/ set of developments involving Becky’s husband which never quite achieves the emotional beats or developments it may want due to not quite being present enough, there’s something about the film that still manages to be watchable. You could easily pick it apart and notice the faults, but it still manages to provoke a response from the audience during certain moments and works as a general piece of entertainment. It manages to avoid major repetition and while certain narrative strokes might not quite lift off or properly click there’s still enough to keep you engaged in the film and interested in seeing what the characters do to survive (even if you do think some of the ideas are quite stupid).
Overall, the film may have plenty of noticeable flaws and issues which you could easily point out, but you’re kept in place thanks to the more subtle details and developments to the point where things are still watchable and manage to get a reaction from the audience. There’s still tension present; inducing occasional gasps and height-induced fear along the way – especially when dangling off the edge of the platform with no gear, or simply relying on some rope for safety. During such moments the film plays to its strengths, feeling less forced and focusing more on the in-the-moment threat and peril rather than the ‘maybe’ or ‘just wait’.
For everything you could point out about it Fall manages to somehow stay on its own platform for most of the run-time, although sometimes hanging off and threatening to slip. You could pick it apart, but for what it provides there’s an effective set of tense sequences here.