Fall is cheap storytelling. A short film idea expanded into a feature-length. It’s got moments of sheer tension and others of unnecessary character building. The character backstories don’t make the film any worse, however, it’s so forced in the middle of what’s supposed to read as dread. There are far too many plot conveniences in a situation that’s supposed to be dire.
The storytelling might be cheap and overly simplistic, but the film essentially achieves what it sets out to be and that’s a vertigo-inducing horror. The writing of Scott Man and Jonathan Frank badly inserts emotional character moments that fall flat with how underdeveloped and forced to create a sense of empathy. The script fails.
Grace Caroline Currey (Becky) and Virginia Gardner (Shihlo) are good as the starring duo, but don’t elevate the script. Both attempt to evoke more than terror out of the audience, but can’t rise above a conventionally written survival thriller. The plot in general is impossible to take seriously but isn’t implausible by any means. YouTubers would probably do this and most likely have already, but in a story context, it was a rather flimsy excuse for a setup. Couple this with the main character’s grief and trauma from a former climbing accident and it’s unnatural mix of motivations.
The Dreadful Opening Scene
Real quickly, wanted to switch gears and talk about that opening scene – awful. Unfortunately for Scott Mann, he’s in that bizarre spot where he needs that moment to build emotional involvement with her character, but when the scene is so badly mishandled, you wonder whether or not it was needed to tell this story. Does this film absolutely need this subplot between Becky, Shiloh, and her dead husband? Does it truly add to the experience? For me, it’s a pure distraction and lessens the impact of the situation. Undercutting the very best element of the film.
Moreover, my distracted ass started noticing that these phones, cameras, and drones have the most absurd battery capabilities. The script at one point devolves into millennial phone service tactics. Similar to the type of text you’d send out that text to your high school girlfriend by standing on some wall and stretching the arm towards the sky to get more height.. It was a relatable but curious plot point as if the screenwriters took a smaller idea and stretched it thin.
The plot serves its purpose and that’s all that should really matter. If you were looking to experience that drop in your stomach from extreme heights and live on the edge of life or death, Fall will be the film. Expecting some sort of epiphany or further attachment will only lead to disappointment, but god dammit, you will feel terror.
To end this rant, wanted to discuss the twist ending. I know I’m sour on the screenplay as a whole, but this moment was genuinely great. It makes the film more than about the solution to the plot or if they live or not. It added an extra layer that wasn’t present throughout the rest of the film. Currey understood that moment well and should be commended for how she played that sequence.