'Fall' review: Absurd thriller gives major vertigo
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Extreme thrillers with implausible scenarios are the backbone of modern day cinema. We go to the movies for escapism and not to think about our daily doldrums and maybe witness a 90-minute spectacle worthy of its premise. They don’t have to be “good” in the narrative sense, but they should be thrilling as some of the best “escapist” movies revolve around bioengineered sharks (“Deep Blue Sea”), giant snakes (“Anaconda”) and crocodiles (“Lake Placid”).
In the case of Scott Mann’s “Fall,” the survival angle, about two friends caught atop of a skyscraper sized radio tower, isn’t enough to overcome how incredibly dull the presentation is. Unlike those previous movies, the CGI effects of “Fall” are laughable, registering as a choppy digitized background that wouldn’t make the cut as a computer screensaver. Lionsgate probably saw the lack of content on the release schedule and quickly pivoted from what I assume was a planned digital only VOD release, and put it in theaters as a placeholder.
The premise requires a considerable amount of disbelief (not that most don’t) but none more so than “Fall,” which follows two friends who in order to cope with loss, decide climbing a 2,000 foot tall radio tower in the middle of nowhere is the best medicine. Nevermind all the warning signs or rigidity ladders clearly evident, Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Virginia Garnder) are defying the odds and making the trek in order to impress a swath of Instagram followers who are probably only watching to see if the girls slip and bite the dust. Hell, it’s probably why audiences will buy a ticket to see “Fall.”
That’s almost what happens as the girls slowly make the trek up this behemoth located on the outskirts of a deserted town with nothing but a motel and diner to its name. These are death defying heights, but that doesn’t stop Hunter, as her friend is clearly a bit razzled about the whole thing, from making quips like: “We can’t let fear win” even as the infrastructure starts to waver and it becomes clear the likelihood of making it back alive is low. These are dumb people caught in avoidable circumstances and I sat wondering why anyone would attempt such a dangerous thing without mentioning it to, I dunno, a relative? I assume Mann cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Becky’s father for a reason, though he only has about six seconds of screentime.
Indeed, Becky and Hunter eventually make it to the top and the ladder used to get them there combusts, leaving the pair predictably stranded with no food or water. Attempts to flag bystanders (with the use of drone technology, because what else do you take on a hike this tall?!) yield some results, but “Fall” rests entirely on these characters idotic decision and a clumsy third act with a laughable twist. Tough to sympathize when they’ve done something obviously dumb, and this after a prologue where the duo experience the death of a friend from similar circumstances. Setting aside all that, the question of “Fall” becomes: Is it silly and obnoxious enough to be fun and replicate the escapism we expect from the survivalist genre?
Not even close.
FALL opens in theaters Friday, August 12th.