Remember when low to mid-budget movies had simple but clever concepts and became monster hits? While studios constantly force huge-budget action fantasy spectacles on their audiences, the more original ideas pop up and remind us that if you give people good, unique stories, they will show up.
That’s what I’m hoping with Scott Mann’s Fall. Featuring two relatively unknown actresses, the film is, quite simply, about two rock climbers who get stranded at the top of a precarious 2000-foot radio tower in the middle of the desert. I mean, that’s all you really need to say, and most people would be all, “I’m in!” The trailer alone is a white-knuckle ride!
The movie opens with three friends scaling a massive rock wall in a National Park. Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and her husband (Mason Gooding) are joined by pal Hunter (Virginia Gardner) as they dangerously navigate the enormous and steep wall. But when tragedy occurs, and Becky’s husband is killed, she sinks into a year-long depression that no one can break her out of. Not even her loving and supporting father, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
As she is about to finally end it all, Hunter apologizes for having been absent for so long and tries to convince Becky to climb a radio tower with her. Hunter is now an adrenaline junkie influencer who showcases all of her adventures through her social media. Becky isn’t down to go at first but finally decides to take the plunge – so to speak – and see if it will break her out of her misery.
Long story short, the gals find the rickety radio tower and make their climb. It’s, of course, rusted and not very secure, but as happens in these types of movies, these things go unnoticed. At first, the ladder up the tower is on the inside, so if anyone were to slip, there are lots of metal bars to latch on to. However, two-thirds of the way up, this changes, and the ladder shifts to the outside, leaving the girls exposed to the elements.
Once at the top, a small, grated platform surrounds the pole that houses the beacon light at the tippy-top, but there are no handrails or anything to protect them from falling. Keep in mind, they are higher than the Eiffel Tower at this point.
As expected, things go wrong, and the two get stuck. Of course, there’s no cell phone signal, so the gals have to figure a way to get rescued, or rescue themselves. This is where the tension for the audience comes in.
Fall is a gleefully stressful watch. With each near fall, or every attempt to grab something out of reach, you stop breathing, and your heart beats out of your chest. This is what makes movies like this so much fun, and credit has to go to the visual effects and the cinematographer who makes every minute of their predicament look absolutely real.
It helps that both Currey and Gardner are fantastic. These aren’t just two dumb young adults who do stupid things and get stuck. They are smart, forward-thinking, athletic gals who are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Sure, they both have their demons that surface while trapped in an impossible situation, but they are clever and able to take the reins when needed.
As heart-stopping as the film is, there were a few missed opportunities in the last third of the film. One involves a thunderstorm that should have been the impetus for the girls to figure out a way off the metal structure. And the final ten minutes should have been a breakneck winning survival moment, but the film cuts away, so we guess what the outcome was until the final few moments. That’s unfortunate. Whether they ran out of money, or the writers weren’t sure how to get them off the tower, I’m not sure, but it was the one disappointment in an otherwise riveting and dizzying thriller.
Fall is the type of surprise hit crowdpleaser we don’t get enough of these days, and I do hope that audiences – dare I say – fall for it.