The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - FALL | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - FALL

fall review
Two daredevil climbers find themselves stuck atop a 2,000 foot tower.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Scott Mann

Starring: Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Mason Gooding

fall poster

I believe it was Godard who said that all you need to make a good movie are two girls and a gigantic TV tower. Heeding those words is director Scott Mann, whose Fall gives us just that – two girls stuck on top of a 2,000 foot tall TV tower in the middle of nowhere. It's a brutally effective piece of primal filmmaking that focuses on a human fear that has been exploited by clever filmmakers ever since Harold Lloyd dangled off a clock tower.

In a prologue that recalls the Stallone thriller Cliffhanger, Becky (Grace Caroline Currey), her husband (Mason Gooding) and their friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner) are mountain climbing when Becky's hubby falls to his death. A year later and Becky is still wallowing in grief, getting drunk every night and ignoring her father's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) attempts to offer help. When Hunter turns up on her doorstep with a proposal to climb a remote TV mast twice the height of the Eiffel Tower, Becky is initially hesitant but eventually agrees, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to scatter her late hubby's ashes.

fall review

Mann does a fantastic job of introducing the structure that will ultimately serve as the movie's inanimate antagonist. We see it first at night, with only its flashing red bulb pulsing miles high in the dark sky. The following morning the girls arrive and we see just how dwarfed they are by this imposing tower. As they make their way up, Mann hardwires potential tragedies with close-ups of screws being rattled loose, showing us just how rickety the tower's rusty ladder is.

Making it to the top, the girls celebrate their achievement, only for the unthinkable to happen – the brittle ladder breaks away, leaving them stranded on a small ledge at the structure's summit. Nobody knows where they are, they can't get cellphone reception and their bag which contains water has become snagged on a satellite dish just out of their reach below. As the girls try to figure out a way out of their predicament they have to contend with circling vultures, fatigue and a revelation that threatens the foundation of their friendship.

fall review

Movies that purport to play out in a confined setting too often cop out by peppering the running time with flashbacks. Kudos to Mann for refusing to go down this lazy route. His film is the real deal and does exactly what it says on its rickety, rusty tin, leaving us in the company of its heroines on top of a bloody great big tower for practically the entire movie. Along with co-writer Jonathan Frank, Mann keeps finding novel ways to amp up the tension, forcing his protagonists to contend with new challenges at every plot turn. Becky and Hunter are a pair of smart cookies, and every time we think they've figured out an ingenious way to get off the damn tower it's scuppered by some unforeseen force.

Fall's effectiveness relies heavily on convincing the audience that we really are watching two girls hanging off a piece of metal miles in the sky. Had the visual effects been below par the whole film would collapse like the knackered ladder that sets off its drama. The effects here are remarkably convincing, far superior to what we've seen employed in similar scenarios in movies with considerably larger budgets. The greenscreen backdrop (which in this case really is a "drop") is immaculately rendered to cause vertigo for the audience throughout. A wind machine works overtime to add an extra element of danger, as does the sound design, elevating every clatter and ricket to fray our nerves. You really will believe a girl can fall.

fall review

Mann's movie is the very definition of a cinematic spectacle and should be seen on the biggest (and tallest) screen you can find. If you're like me and have a fear of heights, your toes will be curled and your nails dug into your palms throughout. Had I seen this on an IMAX screen I suspect I may have had to exit the cinema on a stretcher. Several movies have given us vertiginous set-pieces, but none have stretched them out to feature length as effectively as Fall.

 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.