The Screen Room
A little while ago I saw a post on Instagram from someone I follow called @secondviewing. They were reviewing a film I hadn’t actually heard of but it sounded right up my street…or not…
To clarify, I don’t do heights. I’ve done a couple of parachute jumps in my time but that’s different. If the main chute doesn’t open you have a reserve, PLUS if you’re doing a skydive you’re strapped to someone who (you hope) knows exactly what they’re doing. This is very different to being up very very high with an extremely limited amount of space to stand on.
If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s a new survival drama/thriller starring a relatively unknown and minimalist cast comprised of Grace Caroline Currey (Annabelle: Creation), Virginia Gardner (2018 Halloween reboot), Mason Gooding (Scream - 2022) and, the juicy worm on the hook: Negan himself, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead).
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“For best friends Becky and Hunter, life is all about conquering fears and pushing limits. However, almost a year after a personal tragedy they climb 2,000 feet to the top of a remote, abandoned radio tower and find themselves stranded with no way down. Now, their expert climbing skills are put to the ultimate test as they desperately fight to survive the elements, a lack of supplies, and vertigo-inducing heights.”
I’ve said in previous posts that I’m a big fan of these minimalist cast, survival thrillers. One of my top 10 favourite movies of all time is Cast Away (2000) [two words, not one]. I also love films like The Edge (1997), The Grey (2011), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), All is Lost (2013) and the seemingly and sadly unknown, Frozen (2010) - not to be confused with the annoyingly catchy theme tuned “Let it Go” Frozen released by Disney in 2013.
This movie also has a lot in common with the terrifying shark survival thriller, The Shallows (2016) - another film I highly recommend.
Before I started this page I had a podcast called The Green Room Podcast (get the play on words?) I did a few reaction videos at the request of a couple of people, and one such video I reacted to was of two guys climbing the world’s tallest radio tower. It was an extremely tough watch and this film induced the same palm sweating fear, but in greater quantities!
I genuinely struggle to watch anything height or spider-related so it’ll come as no surprise to learn that I found this movie uncomfortable to sit through. Still, despite my unease I really enjoyed it.
This isn’t a big Hollywood production. If anything it feels a little B-Movie-ish, but don’t let that put you off. It’s actually a good thing and it somehow makes the film seem more authentic. I can’t help but think that had it been a big budget movie the whole thing would’ve been shot against a green screen with horrible CGI results!
It’s pretty well acted considering the two main stars are relatively unknowns, and it’s filmed in such a way that you genuinely feel like they’re up that radio tower. It’s so convincing in fact that I had to look it up to see how it was done.
[BEHIND THE SCENES SPOILERS AHEAD]
It turns out that they actually built a 100ft replica of the top portion of the radio tower on the top of a mountain somewhere in California. Because the mountain top was above 2000ft, it really gave the impression that the girls were, in fact that high (they actually were) but in reality they were just several feet up the actual tower.
It’s genius really and an effect that convincingly and vertigo-inducingly sells a lot of the shots in the movie!
Like I said, I’m a bit of a sucker for these kinds of films so I’m probably a bit more tolerant of certain plot holes and movie cliches than the average filmgoer would be. There are some frustratingly irritating scenes (the flare/douchebag trailer dwellers scene for one) not to mention some hard to believe scenarios (charging the drone for another), still, this kind of movie wouldn’t be this kind of movie without all of those things.
It’s an effective, thrilling and visually captivating experience that will make even the bravest moviegoer go slightly dizzy in their seat.
When you consider it was made on a budget of $3 million but made $12 million at the box office, it does a lot to restore your faith that lower budgeted movies not distributed by massive studios (who aren’t willing to take risks) can still do well when good enough.
If you like survival thrillers like (the previously mentioned) The Shallows, Frozen, 127 Hours (2010) or even the 2013 reboot of the video game Tomb Raider, I think you’ll enjoy this movie. I did.
If you’re afraid of heights though, try not to look down..!
It’s now available to rent on Amazon Prime Video for the princely sum of £13.99.
Seen it? Let me know what you think in the comments.👇
Still not convinced? Here's the trailer.