The Free Fall, 2021.
Directed by Adam Stilwell.
Starring Andrea Londo, Shawn Ashmore, Jane Badler, Michael Berry Jr., Elizabeth Cappuccino, and Dominic Hoffman.
After attempting to take her own life, a young woman must wrestle with an overbearing husband.
Even at a scant 82 minutes, The Free Fall free falls into boredom to such a degree that it’s hard to blame anyone for mentally checking out halfway through. The surprise is that a worthwhile bonkers reveal certainly perks up attention. The payoff is rushed without fully taking advantage of the idea, but it’s nice to be momentarily involved. It’s also difficult to praise, recommend, or call a film good when the majority is still an unfortunate combination of tediously executed and poorly acted.
Andrea Londo is Sara, a young woman eager to celebrate the anniversary of her parents even if things seem to be going rough for them. Her sister Julie (Elizabeth Cappuccino) is perfectly content to pass along some flowers to Sara as a gift, avoiding the night entirely. Perhaps it’s not a kind or respectful choice to make, but hard to argue against being the right one as Sara winds up watching her mother stab her father to death, subsequently slicing her own throat.
If you think that sounds graphically violent, Sara is shown attempting to take her life through self-harm inside a bathtub a few scenes later. It’s evident that Adam Stilwell and screenwriter Kent Harper have no issues taking events to exploitative extremes, something that makes much more sense in tone when it’s time for the grand revelation of what is going on.
Following this double whammy of a prologue, Sara awakens with significant memory loss although is comforted by her supposed husband Nick (Shawn Ashmore, who might be the single biggest reason why The Free Fall fails as there is no nuance to an apparent character trajectory), explaining how he reacted when he found her bleeding out. Naturally, Nick wants Sara to focus on resting up back at home (the production design of this lavish house is fanciful and pretty to be a decent distraction for this lack of narrative thrust, albeit only temporarily) rather than launching an exhaustive investigation into her past and what drove her to try taking her life. Of course, bits and pieces such as the tragedy involving her parents come back to her, but strangely, while she senses a deep connection to Nick, she also is unable to generate a vivid memory of their shared history.
While roaming around the spacious house or tending to the garden, Sara periodically has unsettling visions and bizarre interactions with the maid Rose (Jane Badler), all of which could be real or imagined, or something in between. Nick remarks that the exchanges Sara describes don’t sound like Rose’s behavior, but uses the situation as a misguided means to demand she stand up for herself because he loves her too much to lift her out another bathtub. Again, it’s ill-advised passion, and complete with his other several instances of odd behavior, more than enough to sense that he has malicious ulterior motives.
I don’t want to spoil what the third act introduces, but I will say that the proceedings get gross and freaky with dashes of cleverness that belong in a better version of this story. These filmmakers are on to a neat and twisted concept; they, unfortunately, lack the skill and craft to get it right. If nothing else, the last 15 minutes of The Free Fall will wake you up and provide a few thrills. Aspects of this might work better on a rewatch, but there’s also no point to rewatch something that is otherwise dull.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com