directed by Scott Mann
starring Grace Caroline Currey, Virginia Gardner
directed by Michael Mandell,
starring Jarrod Pistilli, Bonnie Root
When you want to make a film and you’ve not got a lot of money it pays to cut things back to the bare bones. One main location. That helps. As few main actors as possible. Two is a good number. There’s a stack of good films where there were only two main roles. Sleuth. My Dinner With Andre. The Lighthouse etc etc. A high concept is a bonus. How about the two characters get stuck up a television mast that’s taller than the Eiffel Tower with no means to get back down? That’s a literal high concept right there. Or how about a crazed filmmaker traps a fading actress in her home and forces her to act out his hopeless screenplay? Well that’s a concept. And it’s pretty low budget.
Fall is the one up the tower. In terms of Hollywood movies I’m guessing it was a pretty cheap film. The two main characters are both climbers, “adrenalin junkies” (if you must). In the prologue they and a man (who will later turn out to be the source of an unsurprising plot twist) are on a mountain. After some truly woeful acting where the leads pretend they are perilously high up when their body geometry and movement makes plain they are either greenscreening a foot up or just standing on the ground, the man falls off the mountain. The most irritating of the two irritating leads is a youtuber who documents her stunts. In order to get her friend out of her slump post “boring boyfriend falls to his death” she convinces her to climb an abandoned television tower out in the desert. Cue more very poor action acting, more greenscreen and a steady increase in the implausibility as the tower starts to fall apart and they lose their equipment.
You know how it usually takes half a can of WD40, a wrench and a blistered palm to loosen even a mildly rusted nut? Well not up this tower. All it takes is two slight climbers to start up the service ladder and the nuts are falling like hailstones. No more spoilers except to say there is an unintentionally comic scene with a vulture which is pure Rod Hull and Emu.
If you have even the mildest vertigo then Fall will provide an uncomfortable (though not exactly thrilling) hour which is all well and good except somehow the movie’s been stretched to almost twice that length. And it never really earns the unease. You bring your own vertigo and the film just steals it.
The Movie is so low budget that the director set up a kickstarter to raise $17 to get the film made. He got a bit more than his target but not that much. It’s shot on an iphone. Some filmmakers have made visually rich features on an iphone. This one not so much. It’s a pretty basic looking “home invasion” style thriller with a hint of horror. A deluded director cons his way into an actor’s house and forces her to perform the dreadful script he has brought with him. To be honest it could’ve done with ramping up the horror element because as it stands it’s more unpleasant than horrific.
The two leads are perfectly adequate but are hampered by a very wordy, often laboured script. Jarrod Pistilli plays the director like a humourless Jack Black character (yes, imagine that). Bonnie Root is genuinely excellent as the tortured actress though the nuanced layers of her often desperate performance might have as much to do with dealing with the shortcomings of the actual script rather than the script within the script. Overall it’s slightly grubby and not very stylish. Perhaps it would be of interest to aspirant low budget filmmakers but more as a case of what not to do. For a start if you want people to be able to search for and find your film online don’t call it The Movie. For a similar though far superior low budget horror two-hander a better reference would be Patrick Brice’s Creep.
Fall is in UK cinemas from September 3 and worldwide right now.
The Movie is released digitally on September 6.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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