Fall (2022) Review: An Anxiety Inducing Story Of Survival At 2000 Feet With A Catch

For the survival movie genre, there is a lot of tropes that get tossed around, but for the most part, they are personal as the audience wants to see our protagonist achieve said survival despite overwhelming adversity. Survival movies can be gripping at the best at times, nerve wracking and almost terrifying, but with some movies, anxiety levels can rise to new heights through the art of direction.

Fall is one of these movies. The 2022 film, directed by Scott Mann and starring Grace Caroline Currey as “Becky” a depressed woman who is one year on from her late husband’s tragic mountain climbing accident while her best friend “Hunter”, played by Virginia Gardner, comes back into her life at the behest of Becky’s father and suggests that they climb a 2,000 foot high radio tower in the middle of the Mojave desert. From here on out, there were spoilers regarding the plot of Fall.

As the pair begin their journey up the tower, Becky is nervous and unsure of herself, still remembering her late husband’s death. Hunter on the other hand is excited to get more followers, hoping to record drone footage when they reach the top of the beaten down tower. As they climb, a run breaks, which only heightens Becky’s nerves. There are signs and subtle direction cues as the pair make their climb, showing that things on the tower do not seem safe. Eventually, the best friends make their way to the top of the tower safely, but right before they reach the top, Hunter makes a decision to joke round, removing a bolt from the ladder. The pair take photos and record footage from the top of the tower, but there is no cell reception so high up.

At this point, the pair are about to make their way down, with Becky going first. As she begins her descent however, the ladder suffers an extreme failure, sending the frame flying down towards the desert ground below. Through quick reactions from Hunter, she saves Becky, pulling her up onto the one metre wide platform. However, Becky suffers a deep wound to her leg, which Hunter quickly puts pressure on the wound with some fabric from her clothing. In the commotion, the pair’ss supplies had also fell to the satellite dish below, but it is too dangerous for the pair to try to retrieve it.

From here, the pair try several means of trying to retrieve help as they are stranded with no supplies and no way to let anyone know that they are in danger. They try to drop a phone in a shoe from the top with a message, but it appears not to go through. They do however find a flare gun and binoculars, with them using the flare gun to successfully alert two men in the area. In a showcase of how awful humanity can truly be, the two men steal Hunter’s car after they see the flare, leaving the two women to their deaths.

While stranded, the pair have several heart to heart conversations while they have the time. Inititally, Becky notices a wedding photo where Hunter did not look happy in the background, and would later notice Hunter had a tattoo in reference to her late husband. This leads to the reveal that Hunter had an affair with Becky’s husband, saying it was a fling. After this, the two sit in silence for quite some time and this is where both Currey and Gardner shine. They do not speak for some time after this, with the pair conveying more than enough with their body language. Despite the small space, they manage to find some distance at 2,000 feet as Becky struggles with this betrayal.

Soon 24 hours pass.

The pair attempt to retrieve their supplies, with both starvation and thirst being a worry for the pair while also noting that the drone is also in the bag and if they could retrieve it, they may be able to use it to send a message due to the drone not needing any signal to use. Hunter devises a plan to go for the bag and begins her dangerous climb down. This is where the movie really begins to ramp up the tension as both the score and the direction shows the sheer magnitude of the consequences of one wrong step. Hunter begins her descent, she would unclip her harness, landing on the dish. The pair try their absolute best and at one point, Hunter falls from the rope, landing on the bag and being saved by Becky in an almost superhuman moment of strength.

Becky makes the climb to the top of the tower to charge the drone and drops her bag once again, it falls and Hunter doesn’t even try to catch it. This is another interesting moment which is cleverly shot and is important for a later. The shot they use for the most part is a an above shot of Hunter from Becky’s POV and every shot of Hunter looks like she is underwater despite being so high up. Becky succeeds in charging the drone and attempts to fly it towards a nearby motel. In an act that must be an act of cruelty from God, a truck driver annihilates the drone, once again causing the pair to suffer again, agonizing disappointed.

At this point, the pair have been stranded for over 48 hours. They lose hope, with Becky suggesting a plan to use Hunter’s other shoe. Hunter then drops an absolutely incredibly done plot twist when she simply tells Becky that she can’t. And suddenly the shot changes, the clouds darken and the wounds begin to show on Hunter: She had been dead since she had fell from her rope while Becky attempts to pull her up, but due to the trauma she felt in seeing her best friend fall to her death and bleed out, Becky blocked it out and this is where Grace Caroline Currey steals the entire movie as the grief washes over her for a second time. We cut through the last days events, as Becky did everything alone despite Hunter being present in the first version of these events.

The next morning, Becky has completely lost all hope, or so it seems. A vulture that has been circling Becky since she suffered her wound finally decides that Becky looks dead enough to eat and starts picking at her wound. Becky would open her eyes, breaking the vulture’s neck and eating its meat raw. This gives Becky the energy to try one last thing, but it will involve an absolutely heart breaking event for her to have to live through.

Becky makes her way down to the satellite dish and retrieves the bag, now being inches away from her dead friend. At this point, Becky is so thirsty, so hungry and so exhausted that she has only one option left: Use her best friends body to help soften the blow of dropping her phone from the top of the tower. Becky sobs, tells Hunter how much she loves her and apologises before stuffing her shoe and the phone inside Hunter’s body. Becky, distraught then throws Hunter’s body from the tower. The shot that is used is an absolutely fantastic one, as we only see the outline of the tower and Hunter’s body from afar as she falls out of frame.

At this point, the movie decides that viewers have not been through enough anxiety during the movie, with the satellite dish beginning to shift under Becky’s weight. The camera pans out and fades to black as Becky sobs, truly and finally, alone.

The movie cuts back to Becky’s father racing to the tower, having got her final message and the direction is fantastic. Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Becky’s father arrives at the tower to see paramedics loading a body onto a stretcher and as the score fades, grief washes over him, only for Becky to call out to her dad, safe in the back of an ambulance. This is a fantastic moment, with the brief phenomenal acting from Jeffrey Dean Morgan and absence of music leading viewers into the belief that no, Becky did not survive, only for them to reverse the earlier twist with Hunter and have Becky survive.

Fall succeeds in a lot of ways, with a score that somehow pushes anxiety levels through almost unbearable levels. When I was suggested this movie, I was told that was how I would feel and that’s exactly what Fall does best as you never forget the danger the two women are in, with the plot twist of Hunter’s death and the brutality of it, is not forgotten by the end of the movie.

However, the underlying story is that Becky has lost her fight. She lost her husband, she lost her best friend and she lost her drive to fight. But she is put through an absolutely horrific event and despite losing her friend, bleeding out and exhausted, she tells her father via video message that she has found her fight again, in a cathartic moment for the protagonist. Becky fights every step of the way, never giving up despite the odds. Even after losing their ‘last option’ Becky has hope, with the repressed memory of Hunter’s death coming to the forefront moments later. The trope of a character dying, but another blocking the death out due to trauma, is never done better than in this movie as I genuinely said “WTF” multiple times out of shock.

The presence of vultures in this movie is an interesting plot point. Before climbing the tour, the two girls stumble across an animal dying and being hacked apart by a vulture. The girls try to save the animal, but the damage has been done. Later, the pair would be haunted by the birds, with Becky actually killing one to survive, and having an almost Western level stand off with another, who had been eating the corpse of Hunter prior.

One thing that I have mentioned several times is Tim Despic’s score in the movie. It is an absolutely integral part of this movie’s tone. It is powerful as it racks up tension exponentially in the action set pieces. While it is incredibly hopeful at times, while it is removed at key points to produce some raw emotional acting from Grace Currey.

All in all, Fall is an incredible tale of survival, but good luck stopping yourself from jumping out of your seat while watching it.

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