FrightFest review – Fall (2022)
Two women do something unbelievably stupid and get stuck up a two-thousand-foot pole. There’s a Cliffhanger-style trauma prologue, some modish vloggers-are-assholes stuff (cf: every other film at FrightFest this year) and a few personal issues with parents and cracks in a friendship, but that’s just to bring up the page count on the script – which is relentlessly fixed on its simple, dizzying central situation. This is an entry in the cleft stick/circling predators sub-genre of Open Water and the other Frozen, with bloody-beaked buzzards drawn to a festering wound providing a relatively fresh menace – they’ve had fewer chances to kill folks in movies than sharks or crocodiles or wolves.
A year after her husband (Mason Gooding) has died in a climbing accident, the grieving Becky (Grace Fulton) is coaxed out of her miserable spiral by best pal Hunter (Virginia Gardner) aka ‘Danger Dee’, who persuades her that the best way to overcome her nerves and shut-in status is to climb to the top of a disused television mast in the middle of nowhere . Hunter wears a push-up bra and uses a selfie-stick and a drone camera to attract followers for her channel, promising dangerous stunts. Of course, the enterprise is even more perilous than advertised, with rusty bolts, rickety ladders, cross-winds, unforeseen accidents, a lack of phone signal, and low-battery on the drone adding to the protagonists’ woes.
Up there on a platform, with no easy way down, Becky and Hunter have a minor crisis in their friendship to do with an old betrayal – but for the most part this is an exercise in physical suspense, with vertiginous shots, a great deal of dangerous dangling, desperate measures and thwarted attempts to summon help. Scripted by Jonathan Frank and directed by Scott Mann, of the Dave Bautista Die-Hard-in-a-football-stadium movie Final Score, this is spare as drama, but undeniably likely to induce a physical reaction … though the terror does sometimes fade as you try to puzzle out how certain shots were taken, or wonder to what extent stuntwork was augmented by digital trickery.
The leads – both from superhero franchises, Shazam and The Runaways – are solid and suffer for their art, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan brings a bit of grizzled gravitas to a very minor Dad role.
Signature Entertainment presents Fall exclusively in Cinemas from 2nd September.
Here’s the FrightFest listing.
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