Best friends Becky and Hunter find themselves at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower. (from IMDB)
I remember seeing just a tiny teaser for Fall and being intrigued from just the tease. But it's one of those movies with such a small and specific premise that you can't imagine how they'll be able to fill up a full-length movie's worth of material (like All Is Lost or Buried, for example). To sum it up simply, Fall revolves around two thrill-seeking twentysomething girls who decide to climb a 2,000-foot-high TV tower. The tower is based on a real-life structure in Arizona that is the fourth-tallest structure in the United States. In the film, as you can imagine, things don't go as planned for the pair, and they end up finding themselves in the fight of their lives.
The opening to Fall introduces us to Becky (Grace Caroline Currey), her husband Dan (Mason Gooding), and their best friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner) as they climb the side of a mountain together. It seems pretty evident from the start that Dan isn't going to survive this scene, and when that suspicion comes to inevitable fruition, one may start to worry what kind of movie we're in for. For starters, the effects during the climbing scene are quite terrible, with the acting not being all that much better, but thankfully this does not set the tone for the film, but is merely used as a catalyst to rattle the main characters, Becky and Hunter, and give Becky a significant fear of heights. Just shy of a year after Dan's accident, Hunter confronts the still-grieving, substance-abusing Becky and encourages her to climb a 2,000-foot TV tower for the thrill of it. Becky doesn't exactly jump at the chance, but when she caves, the two set off to make the daring, albeit unwise, climb to the tower's very top.
While Fall does a decent job trying to make us sympathize with Becky, it's hard not to want to write off Hunter as just a selfish, image-obsessed troublemaker. After all, during their trip to the tower, Hunter tries to fuel a social media personality she's created by making her appear to be nothing more than a carefree thrill-seeker. But while Hunter is helping Becky come back to life from her grief, Becky helps Hunter to realize she needs to just be herself, and you can see why their friendship works as it does. A lot of the story is spent developing these characters - even if it isn't especially deep - and you end up hoping the girls can find a way out of the mess they've gotten themselves into.
Fall is busting at the seams with tension from pretty much the moment the girls arrive at the tower. Director Scott Mann plays with our sense of reality, too, as we experience a couple nightmares Becky has that almost seem real at times. And while the effects during the opening scene may be abysmal, it's clear that the filmmakers didn't skimp when it came time to film the movie's core scenes on the tower; it really looks as though they're there. The special features on the Blu-Ray disc and iTunes Extras reveal that they actually did build a piece of the tower on top of a 2,000-foot cliff, so you see the height and distance in the background behind the actresses, who... actually hung off of this production-made tower. It all works to give the movie the tension and reality it needs to make work, and it's an intensity that certainly isn't wasted here.
The content for Fall is interesting. In the special features, Mann commented that the girls had used so much profanity during filming, that the movie was doomed to get an R-rating. Mann feared that the movie wouldn't get seen if it were R, so they had to use AI technology to change the girls' mouths at times. (So if you hear them say "frickin'" at any point in time, just know that isn't what they originally had said.) While they made the edit to remove some "F" words from the movie -- leaving just one sort-of shouted one in -- there's still a significant amount of other profanity (and some shocking bloody visuals). There are at least 64 uses of the "S" word from the girls, which is pretty dang high for a PG-13 movie. There's then several different uses of blasphemy and other colorful words and phrases, to the point where it is just truly excessive. The bloody content begins when the girls happen upon vultures eating a disemboweled animal. As such, we see its guts and organs lying on the ground as the girls comment about it still being alive (and Hunter heartlessly posts a photo of it online). Some of Becky's nightmares show different characters in bloodied states, and she herself sustains a cut on her leg which later attracts a vulture that picks at it (yuck). There's even a scene where a character struggles with, and breaks the neck of, a vulture, splattering blood all over themselves... and then eats its meat raw. It's pretty intense stuff for a PG-13 movie, so I'd definitely say this one pushes that envelope quite a bit. (There are a couple other moments that would be spoilers to mention here, so I'll leave them below to read at your discretion.) It definitely rides that PG-13 / R line finely. There's no blatant sexual content, but the girls frequently show cleavage in their tops, and there's talk of an affair/fling that happened at some point in the past.
So, while Fall isn't exactly topnotch cinema, and the premise may be silly given that they didn't have to climb the stupid tower in the first place (so this predicament was entirely avoidable), it does all make for a pretty suspenseful and gripping thriller. The content, again, is quite heavy, so I would suggest proceeding with extreme caution (and I probably would have given it a half-star higher rating if it wasn't so rough), but thrill-seekers who aren't bugged by frequent uses of profanity and some bloody images might find Fall to be just what they're looking for.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 10/28/22)
Digital Copy - The digital copy you get with the Blu-Ray disc allows you to choose from one retailer only - either iTunes or VUDU. I chose iTunes and was delighted to see that it gave me a 4K UHD copy on iTunes -- which, as you can imagine, is better than the Blu-Ray disc. And this movie definitely makes good use of the extra clarity!
Fall: Making of (15:42) - This is the only real special feature. Here, Scott Mann talks about the production and bringing it to the big screen, while Grace and Virginia talk about their filming experiences and getting in shape for doing the physical stunts in the film. It's here where Mann explains that the tower in the movie is based on a real tower in Arizona. For the production, they built part of the tower on a 2,000-foot cliff so the real scenery could be used as a backdrop instead of green screen. They talk about the challenges during filming, including getting hit with 60-miles-an-hour winds and really crazy weather. They also discovered that they accidentally built their tower set on a flying ant nest and the production had become infested with the insects. Finally, Mann talks about how much the girls had used profanity on camera, and how, if they wanted a PG-13 rating, they'd have to censor that. Since they weren't able to afford reshoots, they had to use technology to replace most of the "F" words with something else. (2 "S" words, 1 "a" word, 1 "Oh G-d," 1 "Oh my G-d," 1 "h*ll")
To round out the special features, there's a feature-length Commentary with Producer / Co-writer / Director Scott Mann (1:47:17) and a Madison Beer “I Have Never Felt So Alive” Music Video (3:25) that features scenes from the film.
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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