Greetings again from the darkness. If you’ve ever wondered what a recurring nightmare would look like if filmed for the big screen, writer-director Scott Mann (HEIST, 2015) and co-writer Jonathan Frank are here to show you. Not much plot exists, and the bulk of the movie consists of two characters stuck in one place. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well I can tell you that my palms were sweaty and the tension was high.
The opening sequence immediately evokes memories of the spectacular documentary FREE SOLO (2018) featuring expert climber Alex Hannold. Becky (Grace Caroline Currey, SHAZAM!, 2019), her husband Dan (Mason Gooding, SCREAM, 2022), and their friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner, HALLOWEEN, 2018) are climbing the face of a mountain when tragedy strikes. We then flash forward 51 weeks and find Becky is a still-grieving recluse drowning her sorrows in booze and contemplating suicide. We aren’t clued in as to how she has paid rent for the past year, but her frustrated dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has had no luck getting her to “move on”, and has called Hunter in to see if she can motivate Becky to rejoin society.
Hunter’s big idea is for the two ladies to climb the 2000-foot tall B67 TV Tower, once billed as the tallest structure in the U.S., but now a long-abandoned relic. Hunter is the risk-taker of the two, and she has developed quite a following on her YouTube channel by filming her own risky stunts. The tower appears to be out in some desert just beyond a sign that warns, “No Trespassing – Danger of Death.” Terrific camera work shows us the loose bolts, shaky tension lines, and rusty ladder once used for tower maintenance. In fact, the terrific camera work and the performances of the two actors are what drive home the terror we feel once they have reached the top and realize there is no way down. If your acrophobia hasn’t shaken you enough, how about being stranded 2000 feet above the ground on a platform barely large enough for two people to sit? Your choices for dying include falling, dehydration, starvation, exposure, or being pecked by the local vultures attracted to the injuries sustained while climbing.
Resourcefulness involves cell phones with no reception, a pair of Chuck Taylors, a flare gun, and a new use for a sports bra … somehow hardly noticeable once it’s gone. The two climbers are trapped for most of the run time, turning this into quite a survival story. Mind games and psychology play a part once exhaustion sets in, and there are couple of twists, neither of which should surprise most viewers. While the tension created is commendable, one recurring irritant became a bit of a joke – the overuse of “Are you okay?” begins in the opening sequence and seems to be repeated every 4-6 minutes. If it were a drinking game, no viewer would remain conscious by the end of the film. Other than that, it’s one of the better cinematic versions of a nightmare you’re likely to find … plus it leaves us with the inspiration: “If you’re scared of dying, don’t be afraid to live.”
Opens in theaters August 12, 2022
I have a healthy fear of heights, so needless to say I did more than perspire with this one. I gasped a lot and even had to take a tea break before watching the the last half. Horror films don’t scare me; but this thriller did.
I’m with you. This one jolts a fear of heights even as we sit in a chair watching!