Aug 22, 2022 | Posted by in Movies

Two thrill-seeking friends find themselves stuck at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower in Scott Mann’s Fall.

Films using a single small location present a fascinating challenge for filmmakers as they have to hold the viewer’s attention in a small space by coming up with creative ways to make what happens in that space compelling. The fear of being stuck at a high height with no hope of rescue is a universal fear that is easy to exploit but there is tremendous skill involved in making any attempt to play on that fear stand out.


Here we go!

Fall centres on Becky (Grace Caroline Currey); a widower who lost her husband in a climbing accident almost one year prior and her friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner) who coaxes her out of her unhealthy coping mechanisms including heaving drinking and self-isolation to climb a disused TV tower that numbers among the highest structures in the United States. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan and the two women end up stuck at the top after the rickety ladder collapses.

Becky and Hunter are broadly drawn characters as is common for films like this. Their prevailing characteristics and motivations are simply presented while the actors are tasked with bringing life to them beyond what is presented on the page. They both succeed and create an engaging lived-in friendship dynamic that carries the film. A lot is asked of them as most of the film is spent with the pair alone atop the tower but they rise to the occasion and create characters worth investing in the peril.

The only character having something resembling an arc is Becky. Climbing the tower is all about moving forward and accepting loss by facing her fears. It’s deliberately similar to the circumstances surrounding the loss of her husband so going back to climbing is an attempt to reclaim normality. Hunter acts as the catalyst to kickstart her healing by forcing her out of her spiral to turn her attention to something practical. As such, Hunter is far less developed and mainly defined through her relationship with Becky rather than having a strong hook to call her own. Hunter is presented as reckless and having a forceful nature as she encourages Becky to continue despite how dangerous it looks.

Quieter moments pepper the film where Becky and Hunter discuss their friendship and their connection to Becky’s late husband, Dan (Mason Gooding). There are overly melodramatic details designed to create tension between them that are unnecessary but, on the whole, their conversations are interesting and create well-placed breaks in the peril


Now what?

Fall has an impressive command of tension and suspense. The initial climb brings to mind Final Destination in the way that it sets up the wear and tear of the tower as their climb dislodges screws and weakens the structure. Several visual cues indicate that what they’re doing is a very bad idea and a few disaster possibilities are presented. The inevitability of what will come to pass is wonderfully built and the climbing sequence doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Once they are stranded atop the tower the film really begins. The key to making a film like this successful is to avoid repetition while maintaining a consistent sense of hopelessness. Fall accomplishes this by setting up a number of resources available to Becky and Hunter that could lead to their rescue. They work through their options and constantly encounter failure which in turn ramps up the tension while highlighting the intelligence of the characters as they come up with creative ways to use what’s available to them. Hunter’s social media literacy becomes a major plot point and organically explains the presence of a drone.

Those squeamish about heights -such as myself- may struggle with Fall. It extensively exploits the innate terror of being up so high with no way down along with the lack of space available to make use of. Some of the bigger moments are gut-wrenching in how they prey on the threat of falling to certain death and the smaller moments achieve this in different yet equally valid ways.  The end result is a very vertiginous and claustrophobic experience that works really well. Other external threats are used to good effect and everything is neatly set up so nothing comes out of nowhere or feels extraneous. Once the peril begins the storytelling is tight and efficient.

There are some pacing issues in the first act. A better choice may have been beginning the film with the climb and reflecting on the past as this plays out rather than an awkward opening establishing Becky’s loss, her relationship with her father, James (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and her reluctance to resume her life. Moments of reflection exist as Becky and Hunter are trapped on top of the tower so presenting this information later as part of this shared introspection may have mitigated the lack of momentum early on. The slow start doesn’t break the film but it does take time to pick up pace. Despite the minor issues, the overall experience is suspenseful, urgent and well constructed.


Today isn’t going well


A tight and efficiently constructed vertiginous and claustrophobic experience that wonderfully exploits the innate terror of being trapped at a very high height. The two characters are broadly drawn but well-developed in their own way with the actors bringing life to them beyond what is presented on the page. Becky’s arc is interesting and Hunter is a capable catalyst to support it. The quieter moments peppering the film are at times overly melodramatic but they are interesting and create well-placed breaks in the peril. Fall has an impressive command of tension and suspense as demonstrated throughout with the bigger moments being gut-wrenching and the smaller ones being different yet equally valid. The construction of the situation is slick and efficient with the resources and various threats all clearly established so that nothing feels extraneous. Some pacing issues drag down the first act but the overall experience is suspenseful, urgent and well constructed.

  • Fall


Kneel Before…

  • an impressive command of tension and suspense
  • engaging characters aided by strong performances
  • masterfully exploiting the innate fear associated with being trapped at a high height
  • organically setting up the available resources and using them to avoid repetition
  • gut-wrenching big moments and differently used equally valid smaller ones


Rise Against…

  • pacing issues in the first act meaning that the film takes time to build momentum


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