Best friends Becky and Hunter find themselves at the top of a 2,000-foot radio tower. (from IMDB)
I remember seeing just a tiny teaser for Fall and being intrigued from just the tease. But it’s one of those movies with such a small and specific premise that you can’t imagine how they’ll be able to fill up a full-length movie’s worth of material (like All Is Lost or Buried, for example). To sum it up simply, Fall revolves around two thrill-seeking twentysomething girls who decide to climb a 2,000-foot-high TV tower. The tower is based on a real-life structure in Arizona that is the fourth-tallest structure in the United States. In the film, as you can imagine, things don’t go as planned for the pair, and they end up finding themselves in the fight of their lives.
The opening to Fall introduces us to Becky (Grace Caroline Currey), her husband Dan (Mason Gooding), and their best friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner) as they climb the side of a mountain together. It seems pretty evident from the start that Dan isn’t going to survive this scene, and when that suspicion comes to inevitable fruition, one may start to worry what kind of movie we’re in for. For starters, the effects during the climbing scene are quite terrible, with the acting not being all that much better, but thankfully this does not set the tone for the film, but is merely used as a catalyst to rattle the main characters, Becky and Hunter, and give Becky a significant fear of heights. Just shy of a year after Dan’s accident, Hunter confronts the still-grieving, substance-abusing Becky and encourages her to climb a 2,000-foot TV tower for the thrill of it. Becky doesn’t exactly jump at the chance, but when she caves, the two set off to make the daring, albeit unwise, climb to the tower’s very top.
While Fall does a decent job trying to make us sympathize with Becky, it’s hard not to want to write off Hunter as just a selfish, image-obsessed troublemaker. After all, during their trip to the tower, Hunter tries to fuel a social media personality she’s created by making her appear to be nothing more than a carefree thrill-seeker. But while Hunter is helping Becky come back to life from her grief, Becky helps Hunter to realize she needs to just be herself, and you can see why their friendship works as it does. A lot of the story is spent developing these characters – even if it isn’t especially deep – and you end up hoping the girls can find a way out of the mess they’ve gotten themselves into.
Fall is busting at the seams with tension from pretty much the moment the girls arrive at the tower. Director Scott Mann plays with our sense of reality, too, as we experience a couple nightmares Becky has that almost seem real at times. And while the effects during the opening scene may be abysmal, it’s clear that the filmmakers didn’t skimp when it came time to film the movie’s core scenes on the tower; it really looks as though they’re there. The special features on the Blu-Ray disc and iTunes Extras reveal that they actually did build a piece of the tower on top of a 2,000-foot cliff, so you see the height and distance in the background behind the actresses, who… actually hung off of this production-made tower. It all works to give the movie the tension and reality it needs to make work, and it’s an intensity that certainly isn’t wasted here.
The content for Fall is interesting. In the special features, Mann commented that the girls had used so much profanity during filming, that the movie was doomed to get an R-rating. Mann feared that the movie wouldn’t get seen if it were R, so they had to use AI technology to change the girls’ mouths at times. (So if you hear them say “frickin'” at any point in time, just know that isn’t what they originally had said.) While they made the edit to remove some “F” words from the movie — leaving just one sort-of shouted one in — there’s still a significant amount of other profanity (and some shocking bloody visuals). There are at least 64 uses of the “S” word from the girls, which is pretty dang high for a PG-13 movie. There’s then several different uses of blasphemy and other colorful words and phrases, to the point where it is just truly excessive. The bloody content begins when the girls happen upon vultures eating a disemboweled animal. As such, we see its guts and organs lying on the ground as the girls comment about it still being alive (and Hunter heartlessly posts a photo of it online). Some of Becky’s nightmares show different characters in bloodied states, and she herself sustains a cut on her leg which later attracts a vulture that picks at it (yuck). There’s even a scene where a character struggles with, and breaks the neck of, a vulture, splattering blood all over themselves… and then eats its meat raw. It’s pretty intense stuff for a PG-13 movie, so I’d definitely say this one pushes that envelope quite a bit. (There are a couple other moments that would be spoilers to mention here, so I’ll leave them below to read at your discretion.) It definitely rides that PG-13 / R line finely. There’s no blatant sexual content, but the girls frequently show cleavage in their tops, and there’s talk of an affair/fling that happened at some point in the past.
So, while Fall isn’t exactly topnotch cinema, and the premise may be silly given that they didn’t have to climb the stupid tower in the first place (so this predicament was entirely avoidable), it does all make for a pretty suspenseful and gripping thriller. The content, again, is quite heavy, so I would suggest proceeding with extreme caution (and I probably would have given it a half-star higher rating if it wasn’t so rough), but thrill-seekers who aren’t bugged by frequent uses of profanity and some bloody images might find Fall to be just what they’re looking for.
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 10/28/22)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
Fall is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital. The Blu-Ray disc, as well as the iTunes digital copy (if you so choose it over VUDU) includes the following extras:
Digital Copy – The digital copy you get with the Blu-Ray disc allows you to choose from one retailer only – either iTunes or VUDU. I chose iTunes and was delighted to see that it gave me a 4K UHD copy on iTunes — which, as you can imagine, is better than the Blu-Ray disc. And this movie definitely makes good use of the extra clarity!
Fall: Making of (15:42) – This is the only real special feature. Here, Scott Mann talks about the production and bringing it to the big screen, while Grace and Virginia talk about their filming experiences and getting in shape for doing the physical stunts in the film. It’s here where Mann explains that the tower in the movie is based on a real tower in Arizona. For the production, they built part of the tower on a 2,000-foot cliff so the real scenery could be used as a backdrop instead of green screen. They talk about the challenges during filming, including getting hit with 60-miles-an-hour winds and really crazy weather. They also discovered that they accidentally built their tower set on a flying ant nest and the production had become infested with the insects. Finally, Mann talks about how much the girls had used profanity on camera, and how, if they wanted a PG-13 rating, they’d have to censor that. Since they weren’t able to afford reshoots, they had to use technology to replace most of the “F” words with something else. (2 “S” words, 1 “a” word, 1 “Oh G-d,” 1 “Oh my G-d,” 1 “h*ll”)
To round out the special features, there’s a feature-length Commentary with Producer / Co-writer / Director Scott Mann (1:47:17) and a Madison Beer “I Have Never Felt So Alive” Music Video (3:25) that features scenes from the film.
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Becky and Dan, who are married, kiss. Hunter tells them to “get a room;” We see Hunter in a photo that shows cleavage in her bikini top; Becky briefly shows cleavage; Becky watches a video of her dancing against a pole in a bar (fully clothed); In a dream, Becky imagines she’s in bed with Dan and he glides his hand over her clothed side; Hunter’s shirt for the rest of the movie pushes her chest up, showing lots of cleavage; Becky comments on Hunter’s cleavage and Hunter quips “T*ts for clicks!”; Becky calls Hunter a “like whore” (meaning she wants social media “likes”); Hunter removes bra to use to pad something; The girls see two guys with a camper in the distance and Hunter comments, “These guys are definitely a couple;” We hear that Dan had an affair while engaged to Becky; As Becky climbs a pole, Hunter tries to encourage her that “it’s just like pole dancing!”; Becky removes her top shirt and we see her cleavage in a sports bra top.
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “F” word, 64 “S” words, 1 “J-sus Chr-st,” 6 “g*dd*mn,” 1 “For Chr-st’s sake,” 2 “J-sus,” 1 “b*tch,” 5 “*ssh*le,” 1 “j*rk-*ff,” 8 “h*ll,” 4 “d*mn,” 23 “Oh my G-d,” 4 “a” words, 4 “d*ck” (1 as “d*ckh*le), 1 “t*ts,” 1 “pr*cks,” 2 “G-d,” 5 “Oh G-d,” 2 “S.O.B,” 1 “douchebag,” 1 incomplete “Son of a–”
Alcohol/Drugs: We see Becky drinking at a bar; Becky takes some pills with alcohol and seems to be contemplating suicide.
Blood/Gore: (Some SPOILERS ahead) Becky has a nightmare of being in bed with Dan and she suddenly sees blood on the sheets; The girls find vultures picking a bloody animal carcass. We see its guts and organs hanging out (Very bloody); We see a bloody cut on Becky’s leg through her pants. She ties a shirt around it; We later see the bloody wound briefly with the cloth around it soaked in blood; Hunter’s palms appear bloody; We see a dead body with blood along their head and side as vultures pick at it; Hunter and Becky have dry lips, with Hunter’s looking like the lower lip is cracked; We get a brief look at the bloody wrap on Becky’s leg; Becky throws up at one point; We see blood on a person’s head; We see a dead body with their eyes open and blood on their head and side (and around the body) and a vulture picking at their clothed stomach; We see a close-up of Becky’s leg wound looking bloody. A vulture lands on her leg and starts picking at the wound (it’s gross). Becky then grabs and wrestles the vulture, eventually breaking its neck, splattering blood all over her shirt and face; She eats raw meat from the bird; We see a bloody body again with its eyes open; SPOILER: A character pushes a shoe into the wound of a dead body (it’s gross, but not shown in explicit detail).
Violence: (Some SPOILERS ahead) While rock climbing, something startles Dan and he falls, hanging by a rope. He asks to be disconnected so he can regain his footing, but he falls to his death; Becky and her Dad struggle over her car keys because she’s not fit to drive; Becky has a nightmare of being in bed with Dan and she suddenly sees blood on the sheets; The girls are almost hit by a tractor trailer in their truck; The girls find vultures picking a bloody animal carcass. We see its guts and organs hanging out; As they climb the tower, a rung on the ladder breaks off, startling Becky; Hunter purposely dangles off the edge of the top of the tower, just to get a selfie; Hunter dangles Becky off the edge and holds her hand to get a photo, too; The ladder breaks and Becky falls as Hunter struggles and get her back up on the rope; In the distance, a man uses a crowbar to break a car window; A character slips off a rope and falls; A vulture attacks Becky while she’s at the top of the pole; Becky throws up at one point; A drone crashes into the side of a truck; A vulture lands on her leg and starts picking at the wound (it’s gross). Becky then grabs and wrestles the vulture, eventually breaking its neck, splattering blood all over her shirt and face; SPOILER: A character pushes a shoe into the wound of a dead body (it’s gross, but not shown in explicit detail). The body is then pushed off a place of great height. We don’t see it hit the ground, but we later see a body bag.