Fall is the recent Lionsgate Man vs. Nature (sort of) horror film. It is a bit tropy and falls into a few traps I wish it had avoided plot-wise. But overall is still a pretty thrilling and intense movie. It follows Becky and Hunter as they climb a 2,000-foot radio tower as a challenge, only for the inevitable to happen. I will warn that at the end of the review, and it will be clearly marked, I will be going into major spoilers because there is part of the movie that I need to discuss.
The movie starts with Becky, her husband Dan, and their friend Hunter climbing a mountain. Tragedy strikes as Dan is attacked by a bird causing him to lose his hold and fall to his death. Flashforward to nearly a year later, and Becky has been drowning in a haze of alcohol, depression, and pills. She has cut her father, who desperately wants to help her, off and is slowly losing her grip. Then Hunter shows up.
Hunter left to travel the world after Dan’s death and all but disappeared from Becky’s life. However, she answers the call of Becky’s father and comes back to break Becky out of her grief. She suggests that Becky join her in climbing a tower to face her fears and spread Dan’s ashes. Hunter fails in the “psych you up for this” trope speech, but Becky ends up doing it for herself. Remembering, of course, Dan’s “carpe diem” type quote.
– most real people don’t have quotes like this; this trope is so… sigh –
Honestly… this is a very familiar thing we see in these types of movies. Someone loses a loved one in some horrible accident related to something they love. Whether directly during the activity itself or shortly thereafter. A year later, a friend(s) talk that person into tackling the same activity as a way to face their fears and trauma. We get the familiar, live each day, life is short, etc., that is present in almost every movie like this. And this movie has the added “this is a movie about being stuck on a tower, but really about Becky being stuck in her grief and finding her way to fight beyond it” metaphor.
I point this out not to entirely knock the movie. It’s not the worst metaphor, and there is a reason these movies keep being made with various settings. The Descent and the caves, Fall and the tower. It’s just recognizable and, in my opinion, falls into some traps with the plot that undercut the chance to find a unique footing with this scenario.
Anyway, the women get up the tower, they celebrate, and the ladder they need to get back down, falls. From there, we get an hour and twenty minutes or so of the girls having to try to find a way to get themselves rescued, their lack of supplies, and the elements. Becky must face dying the same way she lost her husband.
Setting aside the plot point and tropes, I would liken this movie a bit to Frozen in the “stuck up and can’t survive for long or call for help” aspects. Sooner or later, reality will give, and these two women will be forced to face that they have to make something happen or die. I would also liken it to Frozen in a bit of a negative way. Instead of a consistent flow from start to finish, both of these movies fell a lot into just having scenes that were cut together. I understand it’s to track the passage of time, but it feels less like a movie going from a to b at times. Fall doesn’t feel like this as much as Frozen, but I still got that feeling at times.
However, for all my issues with the plot and some of the pacing, it really does have some intense moments. The experience on the big screen was almost too much for my “scared of heights” self. There are lots of shots reminding you just how up they are, with solid cinematography and CGI. The movie does not lack for intense scenes where you are gripped and don’t know if this is when one or both of them are finally going to fall. It brings a lot of foreshadowing, and some of it is pretty well done. They also made some interesting choices with Becky’s mental state, again often a theme in these types of movies, that does make for some compelling scenes and moments.
So while I wasn’t in love with parts of the plot, I was still entertained and genuinely unsettled and scared throughout the movie. It’s also decently acted. There is a subplot with Hunter’s “youtube” personality vs. her real one, which is not the best, but Virginia Gardner does a decent job with it. Grace Currey manages to make it through the various stages of Becky’s grief, fear, and then, of course, needing to find her inner strength even though she was always the weaker one.
In short, it is a very familiar movie, just with a slightly new setting. However, it does a lot with that setting, and the familiarity doesn’t make it bad. It keeps it from being outstanding, but it’s a solid movie.
So bottom line? I would recommend it. It seems to be getting mixed reactions from most people, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. I am not without my issues with the movie, but none of them are a killer. I was uncomfortable, in that way I love to be with this type of movie, and found that it fit the bill. I would even recommend it to non-genre fans that tend to enjoy the more man vs. nature horror movies. I recommend seeing it on the big screen if you can, which I know there is still a lot going on, so I get it if you aren’t comfortable with that. However, the intensity of the tower really is great with the big screen. Give it a go.
Note: I had not seen 47 Meters Down and decided to give it a watch between writing this and it going live. Fall repeats a lot of tropes, themes, and ideas from 47 Meters Down. I may do a compare and contrast at some point; however, in short, Fall, I think, was more successful overall.
With that, though, if you don’t want spoilers…
So it won’t take most keen audiences very long to start wondering if Hunter, Dan, and Becky are, in fact, Juno, Paul, and Sarah, and they are. Becky’s reasoning for cutting off her father is that he tries to convince her she’s put Dan on too much of a pedestal which Becky rejects. Until she, of course, finds out while they are up on the tower that Hunter and Dan were sleeping together at one point, and this trip is as much for Hunter’s healing over losing Dan and remorse over betraying her friend as it was for Becky herself. It was not necessary.
Becky rejecting her father didn’t require her father disliking Dan. Becky’s healing did not require her husband being an ass. She could have just confronted his death with her good, although misguided, friend without adding this in. I love The Descent, as many may know, but this added betrayal is not needed for this type of movie. I was entirely disappointed that they decided to include it. It felt way too obvious and, again, not needed. Everything could have worked without it. It still overall didn’t make me dislike the movie, but my opinion would have been higher without.