[Screen It]


(2022) (Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner) (PG-13)

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Suspense: Two women find themselves stuck atop a 2,000-foot, abandoned TV tower and must figure out how to survive.

Nearly a year after the mountain climbing death of her husband, Dan (MASON GOODING), Becky Connor (GRACE CAROLINE CURREY) is a shell of her former outgoing and courageous self, riddled with grief that she tries to drown in booze. That's of concern to her father, James (JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN), so he contacts his daughter's friend, Shiloh Hunter (VIRGINIA GARDNER), who was alongside Becky on the sheer cliff when the tragedy occurred.

Shiloh thinks the only thing left to cure her friend is to get her out climbing again, and she manages to convince Becky to join her in scaling a long abandoned, 2,000-foot-plus TV tower that's located out in the middle of nowhere. While reluctant and scared, Becky follows Shiloh up the tower to the top, only to have the rusty exterior ladder on the last two hundred feet rip away, stranding the two women on the small platform above that.

With no cell service and their bag of supplies perched on a transmission dish fifty feet below them, they must figure out how to get down or somehow alert someone to their predicament before they run out of time.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10

I've always said I'm good with heights as long as they're stable, but that comes with a caveat. And that is when they're in the upper echelon of building limits or with not much between you and the potential adverse effects of gravity, in which case all bravery and calmness bets are off. A case in point was a trip years ago where we visited the CN Tower in Toronto.

With the observation deck north of 1,100 feet, it was the highest I had ever been in a building, and I was fine with that until we came across the glass floor. Mind you, it's not that big, the supports are clearly visible, and kids were jumping up and down on it. Yet, I could not physically make my feet step out onto it. With weak knees, I sheepishly retreated and took the elevator back down to terra firma.

Since then, videos showing people doing crazy and dangerous stunts high atop building ledges, towers and such can easily make the knees once again go weak, my pulse quicken, and my palms sweat. Accordingly, upon hearing about the premise of the simply titled "Fall," I figured I'd be in for more of the same. And that's because it's the story of two women who end up trapped atop an abandoned TV tower a couple of Washington Monuments taller than the CN Tower with no apparent way down.

It's a great premise that falls in line with other "trapped" movies featuring characters stuck in bad places where hope feels quaint, and survival seems highly unlikely. Of course, we know one or more of them will survive simply because viewers will quickly turn on offerings where their vested interest in the people up on the screen ends up with nothing but disappointing and depressing reality.

Accordingly, the question at hand isn't so much how these two women end up atop that tower, but what the people behind the camera manage to do in taking that premise and running with it -- okay, maybe the wrong metaphor -- once they're there to keep us engaged and on the figurative and literal edge of our seats.

Alas, it turns out not enough to turn this into any sort of classic, although I'll admit it has its moments of effectively activating the weak knees/rapid pulse/sweating palms complex. As directed by Scott Mann from a script co-written with Jonathan Frank, the film begins sort of like "Cliffhanger" with a fun daredevil outing turning into a tragedy. But rather than go all action flick after that prologue, we next see Becky Connor (Grace Caroline Currey) nearly a year after her husband's mountain climbing death, now a shell of her former self, drowning her sorrow and grief in booze and ready to end it all.

Fortunately for her -- sort of, as things will play out on multiple levels -- the third person who was present for the traumatic event, Shiloh Hunter (Virginia Gardner), stops by to try to get Becky out of her funk in a "get back in the saddle" sort of way. But rather than going for a horse ride, she proposes they climb an old TV tower that literally towers -- sorry, couldn't help myself -- over its mostly barren desert surroundings.

Shiloh figures that if she can get Becky to the top of that 2,000-foot-plus structure, her friend might regain some semblance of her former self. And thus they head out, with the young widow scared as they begin the ascent that -- like much of the rest of the film -- has some great green screen work that will make most viewers feel like they're out there with them (the bigger the screen this can be seen on, the better).

Without going into details, things start to get a bit preposterous while two twists that eventually arrive are so easy to predict -- as they've been done before -- that most viewers will simply be wondering when they'll be divulged rather than being shocked by the revelations. All of which results in a flick that starts off well enough, but ultimately ends up stranded, just like its characters, once they're in place on the premise platform.

Decent enough for eliciting visceral reactions from viewers and sending those who fall into the acrophobic spectrum running for something grounded to hold onto, "Fall" ends up with a rating of 5 out of 10.

Posted August 12, 2022

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