Film Review: Fall
Director: Scott Mann
Tea Shop Productions
In Theaters 08.12
The summer is winding down, and the prime season for outdoor adventures and big popcorn movies is nearly at an end. While the first official day of autumn is September 22, Fall is already here.
As Fall opens, we are introduced to Becky (Grace Caroline Currey, Shazam!), a vibrant and athletic 20-something who loves to go climbing with her husband, Dan (Mason Gooding, Scream), and her best friend, Hunter (Virginia Gardner, Halloween). The movie opens with the three extreme thrill seekers doing some rock climbing, and by the end of the sequence, we are down to only two extreme thrill seekers. Becky, devastated by Dan’s insistence on taking the film’s title so literally, wallows in her grief and fights with her father, James (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen, The Walking Dead), who doesn’t see why one day needs to define the rest of her life just because it happened to end in “Shit! AHHHhhhhhh…” SPLAT!
One day, in an attempt to get Becky out of her funk, Hunter shows up with an idea: what better way to forget about the accident than an insanely stupid and reckless climb that is certain to go wrong? The girls head out to an abandoned radio tower in the middle of nowhere, planning to climb 2,000 feet to the top and record it for Hunter’s Instagram followers. Before you can say “don’t do that, you’ll either fall or get stuck at the top of the tower,” a ladder breaks, and Becky and Hunter almost fall and get stuck at the top of the tower. It’s going to take all of their tenacity and skill to try to work their way down without getting killed. The intrepid duo must devise a plan as supplies run low, the sun and circling vultures bear down on them and Hunter is forced to face the awful truth that being stuck up there wearing a push-up bra, which she chose in order to get maximum clicks and likes on social media, is #totescringe.
Fall is a stupid movie, though when it’s just having fun with its own silliness, it’s actually quite an entertaining one. Director Scott Mann (Heist) knows how to stage exciting action and milks the stunts and close calls for all they are worth. In fact, when Fall is content with just being an intense, summer thrill ride, it’s easy to forgive any shortcomings and embrace it as a guilty pleasure in the vein of The Shallows. Mann is not nearly as adept at handling the heavier, dramatic elements of the story, however, and when Fall focuses on badly written character drama and just becomes Adrift on a water tower instead of a raft, the audience may feel as trapped. The shamelessly derivative script, by Mann and Jonathan Frank, is packed with unintentionally campy dialogue and falls flatter than Dan.
As far as the performances are concerned, Curry fares well in the action scenes and is well supported by Gardner, who in turn is well supported by the push-up bra. Morgan is here only for a few scenes to add a recognizable name to the credits, and he barely registers at all.
While it has severe shortcomings, there’s fun to be had with Fall as an entertaining nailbiter that’s packed with white-knuckle action. If you enjoy action-suspense that doesn’t require a villainous scheme for world domination, Fall is well worth checking out, even if its reach exceeds its grasp, pun intended. Check your brain at the door, and hold on tight to those armrests. –Patrick Gibbs