You ever gone up a twelve- or eighteen-foot ladder? Maybe to string on Christmas lights or to do something really fun like clean out the gutter? Right around that halfway point you look down and think “no way” as you tightly grab those flimsy aluminum legs. But once that safety is secured, you soon find yourself at peace with the higher environs. That look downward is no longer shocking. Unless, of course, it is. And if you are not on good speaking terms with acrophobia, maybe you should give a pass on Fall. However, if you want a fun thriller that’s on top of the world, then clip in your line and prepare for a 2000-foot ride.
Improbability factor set aside, Fall is a vertigo-inducing tale that goes light years beyond asking the obvious “why do this” and instead drops in the heavy “what happens next” concern that propels all good story-telling. Fall might not be the pinnacle of deep stories, but is certainly entertaining movie escapism.
Title: Fall (2022) Director: Scott Mann Writer: Jonathan Frank // Scott Mann Studio: Capstone Studios // Lionsgate IMDb Plot: Best friends Becky and Hunter find themselves at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower. Joe Says: Fall might not be the pinnacle of deep stories, but is certainly entertaining movie escapism that’s on top of the world.
In an opening that parallels 2000’s Vertical Limit (for all five people out there who might remember the climber/thriller/slasher stumble starring Chris O’Donnell and Alexander Siddiq), Fall opens with Grace Fulton (Shazam!) as Becky, an extreme climber who is overcoming extreme loss. The only thing she climbs nowadays is from out of a bottle. And she fails at that a lot. Hunter, also known as the YouTuber “Danger D” (Virginia Gardner of 2018’s Halloween), seeks to rescue her friend and rack up fifty-thousand views by climbing an abandoned radio tower out in the middle of nowhere… because it’s there. And climb they do. Until they become trapped.
Director and co-writer Scott Mann provides the minimal tools this minimalist feature requires. Set-ups are conveniently dropped. Supplies and equipment are appropriately provided. And danger is most definitely assured as Mann and cinematographer MacGregor amplify every rusty creak, loose bolt, and fraying cable. The first 40 minutes are an anxiety-driven climb to the top of a structure nearly twice the height of the Eiffel Tower and a couple hundred feet shy of the Burj Khalifa (which once entrapped Tom Cruise) but with no elevator, no bathroom, and no shelter. After that initial fear has passed, Fall drops some. Mann and co-writer Jonathan Frank build in unnecessary drama between Becky and Hunter hoping to keep that tension tight. Efforts and energies instead could have been spent towards their environmental situation. When one’s life depends on a three meter disk and slipping off to sleep can result in a fateful nosedive, there should be no room for movie-making convenience.
The views are fantastic as the risks the girls take – hanging off the platform with one arm for that perfect selfie anyone? – are breathtaking. Mann and Frank take each girl to that next level of survival but the ultimate climax is too off-paced for an overall tension-grabber. Likewise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays Becky’s father, is criminally underused.
Fall is a visual thriller. Looking from the ground up, the sky’s the limit. But once at the top? There’s nowhere to go. Yet Mann – and Fulton and Gardner – do a good job of hanging on. After all, the view is a killer.
A version of this review appears on Cinefied.