Review – Whatever You Do, Do NOT Look Down! (“Fall”)

If you saw the spectacular rock climbing documentary, Free Solo, where real-life climber Alex Hannold risked it all to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan sheer mountain, then strap yourself in for this fictional, but scary tale of two girls having a really bad day.

After a disastrous rock climbing accident that cost the life of her husband, (Mason Gooding), Becky (Grace Caroline Curry) is still a mess after a year. Even her caring father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) can’t help her, but someone finally comes to her rescue, her BFF and climbing partner, Hunter (Virginia Gardner). Hunter is an adrenaline junkie who posts her crazy exploits on YouTube and convinces Becky to “face her fears” by climbing the 2000ft tall B67 TV Tower, a long-abandoned structure in the California desert. Hey! What could possibly go wrong?

Ignoring the “No Trespassing – Danger of Death” sign, the two manage to climb to the top platform (2000′ up) and try to post some videos, but darn! No cell reception! Just as they decide to leave, the rusty ladder collapses and falls away to the Earth below, leaving them stranded, afraid, and with no way down. Over the next few days, these two girls will have to endure secrets revealed between them, hungry buzzards flying by wanting a quick snack, dangerous attempts to grab a backpack, and later, charging a drone’s battery. And through all this they’re trying not to starve to death, fall off the small platform, or give into desperation.

And in case you were wondering, all that fantastic landscape shots you’re seeing? Yeah, that’s real. At first, I couldn’t tell if they were really up there or not, thanks to some fancy camera trickery; the kind used in Harold Lloyd’s silent film, Safety Last. It looks like writers Jonathan Frank (Mara, The Tournament) and director Scott Mann (Heist) must’ve read the 47 Meters Down script from their own producers and thought, “Hey, let’s do the same movie over again, but this time with a really tall tower!” The plot and characters are nearly the same, including the twist towards the end.

Still, with all the similarities, there’s no shortage of nail-biting, hair-pulling, nerve-racking action that happens. You seriously root for these two girls to survive this impossible death trap as Currey & Gardner have great chemistry together. Mann’s camera work is awesome too, and if you suffer from acrophobia you’re in for a treat, as the photography is real and not CGI’d or green screened. Another little tidbit of info, to get their PG-13 rating, 30 F-bombs were removed by re-dubbing the actors using CGI deep fakes. Hey, cheaper than reshoots, huh?

**Now showing only in theaters

47 Meters Down (2017)

As the rights of this movie were changing hands from one studio to another, this film had already been shot, put on DVD’s (and VOD) and distributed on-line back in 2016 under the title, In The Deep. Oopsie-daisy! So the new producers pulled it, renamed it, and threw it in the cinemas. Clever!

Two sisters vacationing at a Mexican resort are given a chance to go cage diving with great white sharks. Sounds like fun, huh? What could possibly go wrong?!That’s the entire set-up and plot of this rather predictable, yet compelling little film about Lisa (Mandy Moore), who has been dumped recently by her boyfriend and is envious of her rock-solid sister, Kate (Claire Holt). The two decide to live it up and, with the help of two suave native boys, they figure that swimming with sharks fits that bill.  

With the help of Captain Taylor (Matthew Modine), Lisa gets a crash course on scuba diving (Kate’s already a pro) and off they go below to meet Bruce and his hungry friends. However, this would be a pretty boring movie if nothing bad happened, right? Naturally, the cable holding their shark cage snaps and down they go, 47 meters straight to the bottom. Panicking, the girls have little air left, their digital communication with Taylor is out-of-range, and those pesky sharks are everywhere. Kate decides to swim halfway up to establish communications and is successful, being told by Taylor that he’ll send down another cable soon to hook them up. But when?

Meanwhile, it’s time for a snack. Bruce and his buddies periodically show up every now and then to harass the girls as they spot a light off in the murky distance. Could that be a rescue light? Lisa swims off to investigate and wished she hadn’t. More panic and shark hijinks ensue as their rescue attempt doesn’t go as well as they hoped for. There’s more panic, oxygen levels at critical, sharks with BBQ sauce swimming by, and two broken girls who are determined not to die. They shoulda stuck to a Universal Studios tram ride. . . at least their sharks are made of rubber! 

With a catchy little script by Ernest Riera and director Johannes Roberts, this very quick 85-minute film has the simplest of set-up’s and exactly what you’d expect for your typical ‘shark-vs-people’ flick, except for a twisty ending, which was a nice change of pace and unexpected. In the past, both Roberts and Riera have teamed up and written a few forgettable movies and some short films, but this has some bite (sorry!) to it. Roberts shows some very nice direction, especially with all the underwater footage.

Give credit it to the girls, Holt and Moore, as they really held the movie together with their chemistry as sisters and believable dialogue. Filmed underwater wearing full-faced scuba masks and being mic’d added to the realism, but geez, Louise! Those underwater CG sharks were a bit awkward, except as effective jump-scares. Another fine element in this movie are the lessons you get in diving with informational jargon (exposition) that makes you just a bit smarter about scuba diving. That is, should you ever decide to go cage diving with great white sharks. Me? I think I’ll stick to watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.  

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