producers of 47 meters below comes another horror movie that urges audiences to feel superior for choosing channel surfing over extreme sports.
This time, our brave pair of heroines aren’t swimming with sharks. They climb a dilapidated radio tower 600 meters high. Why? Oh, there’s a lot of backstory. But come on now – you’re not coming To fall for pathos. You come for the scare, the suspense, and the sheer stupidity of human fearlessness. To fall book on some of these things.
As a devoted indoor child, there’s nothing in this whole world that would convince me to climb a massive pole with nothing but a rusty ladder and a pushy best friend to help me out. But such instant dislike is what movie makers love 47 meters below, The shallows, Adriftand even Lowering expect a large part of their audience. We’re not meant to relate to the courage or hubris of heroes who dare to swim with sharks, set sail, or go caving. We’re meant to be eyed wide with tension, mouths gaping in terror as these models of beauty and athleticism throw themselves to the brink of death, all the while bleeding bloody stories.
To fall is a high-stakes film about best friends in extreme sports horror.
1 credit: Lionsgate
In To fall, the bloody story of accomplished mountaineer Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) begins with a rocky ascent where her handsome husband makes a steep and deadly descent. Cut to a year later, Becky’s dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a brief Hopper-style appearance) begs her to put down the endless liquor bottles and find something else to cling to besides her partner’s ashes deceased. Enter bestie Hunter (Virginia Gardner), an ever spunky and brash blonde whose rock climbing exploits have made her quite a famous Youtube vlogger. Naturally, she insists that the best way to get through overwhelming grief is to climb something stupidly high and dump the husband’s ashes out of it. May he be commemorated as he died, falling from a great height!
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Though done in earnest by a hard-toothed cast, the emotional setup is a chore because no one chooses a film called To fall is looking for a poignant drama. Soon the girls are climbing to frightening heights, and yes, the ladder falls and they’re stuck atop a platform with no phone reception, no tools, and vultures surrounded. Screenwriters Jonathan Frank and Scott Mann (who is also directing) attempt to flesh out the thin concept with a creeping conflict between the besties, the source of which is painfully predictable. Equally boring are the tedious archetypes of femininity exhibited by the not-so-dynamic duo of a serious, kind-hearted brunette and a selfish, fun-loving sexy blonde.
How it works To fall compare to 47 meters below?
1 credit: Lionsgate
See, 47 meters below maybe a cheap thrill movie. But the dynamic sibling bond — along with the all-around acting performances of its leading ladies — meant that the film’s emotional stakes were cut as fiercely as shark teeth. To fall fails to recreate that sense of sisterhood, in part because Hunter has clearly been on a certain level all along. But moreover, Mann’s direction seems to have left Currey stuck in a performance that’s one-note sadness or screams. Gardner has more fun with the role of the risk-taker, wielding a reckless charm reminiscent of the chaotic fantasy of Florence Pugh. So when the film finally reaches its third act, it’s Gardner and his performance that wins out, even though the script fails them both.
To the script’s credit, however, Frank and Mann find a surprising amount of ways to do “stuck on top of a tower” more than meets the eye. Scrambles to drop gear, desperate attempts to call for help, and a surprisingly frantic battle with a vulture deliver the kind of gruesome, suspenseful thrills these kinds of movies are made for. Amidst the miseries endured by these beleaguered buddies, you might begin to wonder, would you rather fall to your death? Die of exposure? Or be eaten alive by a bird of prey? To fall gives you plenty of time to think about it. But the craziest bits are the callbacks to the third act, where once flawed escape plans are given a new, more dramatic or downright gruesome twist.
At the endTo fall is a movie that’s emotionally shallow, but smarter than it should be, and as macabre as your dark heart probably hopes. this is not one good film. But it’s a movie that made me scream “Oh my god!” And that’s something.
To fall opens in theaters on August 12.