The Free Fall Image

The Free Fall

By Alex Saveliev | February 11, 2022

You can’t fault director Adam Stillwell for lack of guts. He goes all out in his bonkers horror flick, The Free Fall, which needs to be seen to be believed. But it does miss the mark, with unnecessary stylistic embellishments, unintentionally hilarious sequences, and a finale that stretches credulity to the ripping point. I had a blast watching it, but it’s flawed in oh so many ways.

Sara (Andrea Londo) discovers her mom stabbing her dad with a knife, then slicing her own throat. After a failed suicide attempt, the traumatized young woman awakes – with total memory loss – next to her (alleged) husband, Nick (Shawn Ashmore), in a spooky-as-f**k mansion. The intense writer gives Sara suspicious pills when she has nightmares, kisses her self-inflicted wounds, plays the piano for her, and perhaps creepiest of all, wears a variety of thick turtlenecks.

Things then get weirder. Sara meets the hostile maid, Rose (Jane Badler). A random dude resembling a priest hands her a mysterious key. Nick forces her to attend a crazed dinner party, which involves pulled pork, conversations about cannibalism, fork stabbings, drugged drinks, blood-filled tubs, and pig masks. It precedes, believe it or not, an even more WTF “twist upon twist” of a finale.

“…conversations about cannibalism, fork stabbings, drugged drinks, blood-filled tubs, and pig masks.”

Ambiguity propels The Free Fall forward. Is Sara trapped with some psycho? Has she gone mad? Is this all real? Cinematographer James Kniest’s smooth, long tracking shots and exquisite framing complement the beautiful lighting and set design. Structurally and atmospherically, the film is on point. It’s also quite grisly, sure to satisfy gorehounds. Rose pulling out a giant intestine from an otherwise picture-perfect rose garden marks the highlight. Londo holds the screen, giving it her all, while Ashmore chews scenery like it were ham.

Sadly, all those highlights are let down by amateurish dialogue, cheap shock scares, and over-abundance of (and reliance on) jarring flashbacks and dream sequences. Screenwriter Kent Harper’s script emphasizes the “so bad it’s (kind of) good” duality. Most of it belongs to Nick, who uses an old-school typewriter and proclaims, “I should’ve ripped that old phone from the wall years ago.” (Has Sara traveled back in time? Dwell on that.)

The relish with which Ashmore pronounces his lines saves the production from toppling into the bargain-bin abyss, but never quite elevates it either. “I know you’ve been having very vivid dreams, Sara, but I am not going to ignore this one!” Nick exclaims. “That’s what the world does,” he snarls. “It takes people like you and sucks the marrow out and leaves the rest to rot.” There’s a hallucinogenic lovemaking scene wherein the couple smears each other in blood. It makes little sense in context, much like everything else, but man, it’s hilarious. Sara’s exchanges with Rose are equally knee-slapping.

The Free Fall freely borrows from classics like The Shining and The Exorcist. Stilwell molds these elements into a ludicrous but oddly entertaining amalgamation. As an established film critic, I certainly cannot recommend this nonsensical feature. But as a film buff, I urge you to give it a watch, preferably with a plethora of mind-altering substances and friends to share the laughs.

The Free Fall (2022)

Directed: Adam Stilwell

Written: Kent Harper

Starring: Andrea Londo, Shawn Ashmore, Jane Badler, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

The Free Fall Image

"…I had a blast watching it..."

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