As high concepts go, Fall is pretty hard to top. We’ve seen people trapped in a canyon (127 Hours), trapped in a coffin (Buried), trapped on a desert island (Castaway), in space (Gravity), on a chairlift (Frozen, no not that one) and in the middle of the sea (The Shallows), but Fall takes survival horror even higher to trap two girls on a tiny platform on top of a whopping great TV tower.
Endlessly silly, and hampered by a lousy script, Fall somehow still manages to be almost unbearably tense – the equivalent of spending two hours watching those stomach-churning YouTube videos of mad freerunners hanging off tall buildings for fun.
Hunter (Virginia Gardner) is one such adrenaline junkie – calling herself “Danger D” to livestream her trips up and down skyscrapers without using a rope. Climbing the Rockies with best friend Becky (Grace Fulton) and her husband, Dan (Mason Gooding), a momentary slip sends Dan to his death leaving Becky spiralling into depression.
Thinking the best way to dig her out of her misery is to force her back into a harness, Hunter convinces Becky to join her in climbing the B67 TV tower – the (very real) seventh tallest structure in the world at 2,000 feet. Basically just one big rusty pole with a ladder stuck on the side, the B67 is terrifying – taller than the Petronas skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur, and about twice the size of the Eiffel Tower.
“You can scatter Dan’s ashes on the top!” beams Hunter, a character who literally has her cleavage written into the script (“tits get clicks!”) Still frazzled but determined to face her fears, Becky agrees to climb the tower. When they get to the top, the ladder falls off. Stuck on a small metal circle in what looks like the edge of space, the girls have no way to climb back down the sheer sides of the pole. The water is running out, their phones have no battery and the vultures are starting to circle…
British director Scott Mann (Heist, Final Score) works wonders with a tiny $3m budget to make two hours spent staring at the same big stick feel riveting – with each new cliff-edge challenge getting gradually more unbearable until some late scenes are genuinely hard to watch. Using deepfake tech to replace all the “fucks!” with “freaks!” to secure a lower age rating, and filming on a real (albeit much lower) tower in the middle of a desert plagued by storms and termites, the making-of doc for Fall should be almost as thrilling as the film itself. Not that anyone with vertigo will want anything to do with it.
The twists might be lazy and the logic gets laughable (just wait until the girls start taking their shoes off…) but Fall is still properly scary stuff for anyone who hates heights thanks to Mann’s lean directing and some perfectly staged big-drop horror. Not one to watch on a plane. Or up a big TV tower.
- Director: Scott Mann
- Starring: Mason Gooding, Virginia Gardner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
- Release date: September 2 (in cinemas)