Low-budget filmmaking always has the characteristic of setting tight parameters in which the filmmakers have to work in. These parameters can become a curse of a blessing, but when things go well, this limits the things that can be done, only resulting in cleverness and tons of imagination put onto the screen. The Free Fall is one of those low budget efforts that is trying really hard to add a lot of imagination to compensate for the things that it cannot do as a film. Sadly, it is always on the verge of success, but never achieves it.
The Free Fall is a film directed by Adam Stilwell and stars Andrea Londo and Shawn Ashmore. The film tells the story of Sara, a young woman who after seeing the death of her parents wakes up from a coma and without any memory of what happened to her. Now, and with the help of her husband, Nick, she must navigate the plane of her lost memories and also the treating reality that surrounds her.
If there is something we can say that The Free Fall does very well is to create a good sense of tension throughout the whole film. The Free Fall presents itself from very early on as a horror film. If the movie is scary or not is something that is very hard to qualify from an objective point of view. What is scary for some, it isn’t for some others, but the movie is really trying to create some really hardcore, bloody imagery at every step of the way.
Some of these gory sequences really don’t make a lot of sense early into the film. Thankfully, the movie isn’t long, running around just 87 minutes in total. So, the wait for revelations and clues is a short one. And yet, you feel that the movie is trying too hard all the time to be scary. From the gore, the movie even makes use of some good old fashion body horror that can be more nauseating than horrific for many people. Stilwell and his team worked really hard, throwing a lot to the wall to see if it sticks, and only a couple of things actually do. The rest feels like a lot of fluff in an already short movie.
And that is the problem with movies nowadays. Some films try to do too much stuff in a very short period of time. Stories that would work better in the form of a miniseries are dealt with in about two hours. Furthermore, some other movies just don’t have enough story to go by, and what could have been a short story is stretched to the max in order to reach the standard running time of a full length feature. The Free Fall could have been a short film and have a lot more impact as a consequence.
While the movie does a very good job at creating a threatening atmosphere, and letting the audience know that something is really off with the whole situation, the payoff of so much build ends up being a weak one. The twist does make sense, if you suspend your disbelief enough, that is. But it still feels like a cop out, and then right at the end the movie does exactly what other thousands of movies do to end their tale. There’s nothing unique about this type of ending in 2021, it makes the story feel cheap and underdeveloped.
The weight of the movie rests on the shoulders of Andrea Londo and Shawn Ashmore, and they do a pretty good job with the material. Londo really manages to seem lost and scared throughout the entire movie, and slips into the role of the scream queen with a lot of ease. Londo is still a young talent, and her work on this film should propel her to some better projects in the future.
Ashmore on the other hand is the big name talent of the movie, and he does a great job. From the moment he appears on scream it is very clear that he’s hiding something, something bad and the actor, who more often than not plays the good guy, shows in reign by being menacing and mean.
It doesn’t matter how good the actors are, though, the material is weak enough that the actors can only do so much. The visual effects are also rather weak, but it is understandable under budget constraints. It is unfair to ask more from the movie in that regard.
The Free Fall fails to be a memorable horror movie but shows the untouched potential of its main star as an actor and the talent of Stilwell to create tension and atmosphere. Maybe, in the future, these two talents can extend their wings and achieve their full potential.