30th Aug2022

Frightfest 2022: ‘Fall’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mason Gooding | Written by Scott Mann, Jonathan Frank | Directed by Scott Mann

If you thought you weren’t afraid of heights, think again – this utterly terrifying don’t-look-down thriller from director Scott Mann will have you clutching the sides of your seat in sheer sweaty-palmed panic. As such, it’s about as perfect a closing night film for FrightFest as it’s possible to imagine.

Fall begins with a prologue, in which daredevil climbers Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Hunter (Runaways’ Virginia Gardner) undergo a devastating tragedy while scaling a rock face. A year later, Becky is still deep in depression and trauma, so Hunter decides that the only thing that will snap her out of it is to climb to the top of the 2,000 foot B67 TV tower — an abandoned communication tower located in the middle of the California desert.

Hunter clearly knows her best friend well, because her strategy works and soon the pair of them are shimmying up the terrifyingly tall structure, using only the attached ladder and a not-very-long rope. After a while, they reach the tiny platform at the top and take a series of nail-biting selfies for Hunter’s social media followers. But then, disaster strikes – the ladder (which had been loosening throughout the climb) falls away, stranding the two girls up the tower with no visible means of getting back down.

The script, co-written by Mann and Jonathan Frank, maintains a surprisingly impressive sense of pace and escalation, considering almost the entire movie takes place up an impossibly tall tower. In other words, just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse for the central duo, they do. And then they get worse again.

The effects work is impeccable throughout. Logically, large parts of the movie must have been computer generated, but you’d be hard-pressed to see the joins, as the film is never less than completely convincing. A large part of that is due to cinematographer MacGregor’s camerawork, which has a lot of fun with insanely vertiginous angles and constantly maintains a sense of both location and perspective, with regard to the climbers, the tower, the ground and the horizon.

The script has its fair share of cheesy moments – you’ll see a particularly soap-worthy revelation coming a mile away – but the central relationship is well written, ensuring that the audience is emotionally invested in both characters. There are also notes of jet-black comedy, most notably in a key sequence where Becky and Hunter spot some people on the ground and try to attract their attention.

Despite a cursory early appearance from Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Becky’s dad at the beginning, Fall is essentially a two-hander and both Currey and Gardner turn in terrific performances. Of the two, Currey has the bigger emotional journey and delivers some powerfully moving moments, but Gardner turns in an intensely charismatic, star-making portrayal, investing Hunter with a pulsating sense of energy that makes her thoroughly convincing as a devil-may-care thrill-seeker. (The issue of whether her legions of Instagram / YouTube followers are in any way responsible for their predicament is, like the girls, left hanging).

In short, Fall is a genuinely terrifying thriller that hits truly dizzying heights, thanks to skilled direction, superb special effects work and a dynamite double act from Currey and Gardner. See it on the biggest screen you can find, but have a sick bag handy, just in case.

***** 5/5

Fall screened as part of this year’s Arrow Video London Frightfest. Signature Entertainment presents Fall exclusively in Cinemas from 2nd September.


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