We need to talk about the way Hollywood portrays young girls, especially when they’re scripted by men in their forties. In the absence of real referents, these characters tend to histrionics, absurd decisions and impossible dialogues that stick with the absurdity of a slasher in which we are aware that they are going to end up being hacked to death, but not in a film in which, supposedly, we have to yearn for their survival.
This is the biggest problem of ‘Fall’, a film that, tightening the right screws, could have been outstanding.
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You have to have a certain touch to make a film like ‘Fall’, which runs almost entirely in just two square meters, don’t get tired and keep the tension. Of course, it influences that those two square meters are a platform at the top of a 600-meter-high television tower from which they have no way to get down. The tension is constantly and persistently increasing, although sometimes it reaches the unintended self-parody (the rednecks who see them from the caravan) and a more adult tone is missing that gives rise to more organic and realistic reactions.
And it is that putting up with Becky and Hunter for more than 90 minutes can be hard: they are so bland that putting all the weight of a movie as supposedly exciting as this can cost a bit. If you are going to put someone in a limit situation and try a thousand tricks to get them out of there for an hour, make sure his personality is appealing or at least it goes beyond “Her husband died” and “She’s a Youtuber and she’s crazy.”
However, the sequences work, the twists (well, one of the two) manage to surprise if you have not been very attentive and it ends up being a more than decent film with spectacular shots not suitable for people with vertigo and some powerful script solutions. It’s hard to make a story like this feel this natural, and while it does have those scenes where a seasoned viewer deduces they’re bait to be picked up later, it never gets bogged down: ‘Fall’, even in its worst moments, always knows how to move on while still entertainingand, considering the circumstances, it is a merit.
That I’m not to blame for seeing you fall
I’m pretty sure there has been a treatment of this story that it began and ended with the two girls on top, without the need to tell the viewer how they got there: it would have been a better film. The initial half hour that gives context to the film becomes tedious and boring, mainly because not even the script itself or the director is interested in what countsand overthinks it for a hero’s journey that, frankly, doesn’t matter at all.
‘Fall’, yes, ends up giving what it offers: emotions at 600 meters high, extreme survival and plot twists between surprise and trickery. It is also proof that to make a good thriller you don’t need gunshots, explosions and complex criminal plots: a good idea is worth much more than a thousand clone scenes.
Sadly, the film sometimes forgets its strong point (the two girls’ struggle to escape from a towering point with no ladder) and tries investigate a plot that neither works during its first bars, nor does it once it enters the footage, with one of the most obvious and embarrassing turns of today’s cinema, very poorly hidden between looks and silences. No matter how hard you try, the charisma of the characters tends to zero: their histrionics and one-dimensionality leads to these scenes do not increase the tension, but serve as an unnecessary escape valve. If you thrill the spectator up to a level and then drop them, you have to pick them up again from below. As a thriller, ‘Fall’ is continually on the rise, but in the supposedly emotional sequences it plummets.
I said at the beginning that ‘Fall’ could have been more adult. And it is that, in fact, it was: it worked well in the showings with the public that Lionsgate decided to release it in theaters on the condition that 30 “fucks” be removed through a technology that automatically doubles the cues and changes them for other acceptable ones, also modifying the lip movement. And basically, it defines the film well: an original idea weighed down by wanting to turn it into something that it is not and to please the most mainstream public.
When Scott Mann’s film is clear about what it wants to do, it’s flawless: The fight for survival does not reach the extreme but it does offer surprises along the way, moments of having a hard time and various misfortunes that keep you, at the very least, interested. It’s more: if only he had tightened the characters a bit more by focusing more on survival and less in its emotional aspect, without fear of launching fully into adult cinema, we would be facing a more than remarkable film.
In the end, ‘Fail’ passes with more glory than sorrow for the billboard. The images are certainly spectacular, the core of the plot is original and a great thriller is intuited between scenes somewhat watered down by two protagonists whom the script mistreats from the opening scene, reducing them to walking topics that cause more apathy than empathy. There would be a great movie here if only I would have thought less of the general public and more in telling a story of extreme survival that did not need sentimental embellishments.