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Blood Harmony Volume 22: Fall (2022) Recap
I had the good fortune of watching this film last year with two of my oldest friends during one of our regular Zoom movie nights that began during COVID. This movie is SO DUMB. And also SO GREAT.
To situate yourself, you might want to check out the trailer .
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Fall begins mid-rock climb on a crazy-looking cliff wall. Say what you will about this movie, the script is TIGHT. Like Glass Onion, everything is here for a reason. Except for the inclusion of Jeffery Dean Morgan as the main character’s father. I hope you got a lot of money for your glorified cameo, JDM! I loved you as a ghost lover in Grey’s Anatomy. JK, I stopped watching right around that time. Two nubile-appearing children (people in their early 20s) are laughing and grunting their way up a cliff wall. Our hero, Becky, starts freaking out and the dude she’s with reminds her that she’s done “way scarier things” AKA MARRYING HIM. They are SO YOUNG. It is genuinely scary that they are married. The dude is played by Mason Gooding, who was great in Booksmart as the object of Beanie Feldstein’s lust. He is also Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s son. I appreciate you, nepo baby! Becky is played by Grace Caroline Currey who has been in a bunch of other stuff that I haven’t seen. Mason aka “Dan” helps her calm down and then they start making out which feels unsafe given their elevation. Suddenly, someone starts screaming “get a room” from another cliff wall. They are not alone! Who is it but their mutual bestie, Shiloh Hunter (referred to always as “Hunter”)? Hunter gives me aggro Florence Pugh vibes but not cool like Miss Flo in Hawkeye kicking ass all the time while throwing out tons of queer energy. Although there is a little queer energy in this film.
There’s a stunning shot of the mountain from the view of a hole in the rock face. Dan’s adorable face shows up in the frame and he reaches inside to place a hold. Then a BIRD FLIES DIRECTLY INTO HIS FACE. Cue the sound from Inception but higher pitched! Mason falls backwards and dangles on the cliff wall. Everyone is freaking out! But it seems like maybe he could just swing gently back onto the cliff wall? What do I know? I’ve rock-climbed twice in my life. Becky unhooks him at his request to give him more swinging power and then his hold starts to dislodge…and it falls out and he plummets to his death. Becky tries desperately to emote. Fade to black WITH NO INDICATION AS TO HOW THEY GOT BACK DOWN. Helicopter? Climbing while sobbing? It all sounds like misery.
“51 weeks later” (sure) and we’re in Becky’s sad sack apartment where the plants are all dying and the vibes are all bad. She has an old-fashioned answering machine which is so anachronistic that there’s a 100% chance this screenwriter is Gen X or a Boomer. The machine still has Dan’s voice on it. JDM (Becky’s Dad) leaves a concerned VM which includes the phrase “whenever you stop hating on me”. No. Dan’s ashes are in a box on the counter labeled “Cremated Remains”. Of course they are. Becky is out at a bar, drinking a tiny amount of brown liquor on the rocks with weirdly nice nails for someone who is utterly devastated. Also, who’s paying? It seems unlikely that she is able to hold down a job right now. She is drunkenly dialing Mason’s phone to hear his outgoing message. Is she still paying for his cell service? Does she have a therapist? Becky is wearing a low rent version of Lindsey’s army jacket from Freaks and Geeks. When she emerges, stumbling, her Dad is waiting for her in the parking lot and she is PISSED (both in the British and American way). JDM tries to give her some tough love and she is having none of it. Based on the subtext,I think it’s clear that JDM thought Dan was an asshat. And he was! But we’ll get to that. Becky walks home angrily and tries to self-soothe by calling Dan’s phone again but it just got cut off. What are the fucking odds? I guess he IS really gone now. Becky is maybe about to end it all by mixing booze and pills when her phone lights up with Hunter’s pictures and begins to play “Cherry Pie” by Warrant. Again, older screenwriter. It’s not even a good song. Don’t think this song won’t come back to haunt us later (it totally will). We don’t see Becky pick up the phone but suddenly she’s opening the door to Hunter.
Hunter is now a climbing influencer and wants Becky to join her in climbing the B-67 TV tower because she needs Becky to face her fears and also JDM called her and begged her to do something to help and also they used to be best friends. Becky hasn’t climbed since she watched her husband fall to his death and isn’t so keen on this idea. They sleep on it and in the morning Becky takes a shower for the first time in months, removes the makeup the movie crew used to render her vaguely unattractive, and decides to do it. As Dan used to say, “if you’re scared of dying, don’t be afraid to live.” A climber and a poet.
Hunter and Becky are headed to climb the tower. As Hunter drives, Becky watches a video of herself pole dancing to “Cherry Pie”. Like for money? Or for fun? Who cares? She scrolls to another pic of Hunter beaming into the camera with a man’s arm around her. Whose arm? Hunter won’t say. Just “some guy”. Interesting. Clueless Becky says “well that some guy sure knew how to tickle your whistle!” Save me from this dialogue. They arrive at the diner/motel near the tower and settle in for some dinner which we never actually see. Becky checks out Hunter’s YouTube videos as her influencer self “Danger D”. Danger D is all #danger, #itsbettertoseekadrenalinethanfaceyourproblems and Becky thinks she should just be herself (someone who is not Florence Pugh). But what is “the self” in your early 20s anyway? Something to mull over later when you both have more time. Like when you’re stuck on this tower. Despite riding in a car all day (during which she could have charged her phone), Becky’s phone is nearly dead. She asks their server if she can charge it and her server is like “take it back to your room and charge it there you moron”. Again, I’m not a rock climbing expert. But as someone who brought a backup charger to Disneyland, I think these ladies can do better from a preparation sense. Never fear, Hunter shows Becky how to charge her phone off of the table lamp by removing the bulb and loosely draping the power cord on the connection plate. Becky is astonished. In the interest of science, I tried this and it didn’t work.
OMG, this next scene. Dream Becky wakes up to find Dan alive and cuddling her. She tells him “I love you” and he responds with “1-4-3”. My friend Kim actually used to use this with her kids so they wouldn’t be embarrassed by her saying “I love you” in public. But Dan is ostensibly a grown MARRIED person. So his inability to say it is super weird. Of course, because Becky’s life sucks, dream Dan is suddenly dead and she’s covered with his blood. She wakes up to Hunter honking her horn outside. It's time to go on this well-thought out adventure, ladies! Danger D is wearing a sports bra and showing off some serious cleavage. As she tells Becky, “tits for clicks”. I hope someone on Etsy has made that shirt. Danger D records a hype video for their climb WHILE SHE DRIVES which upsets me and my sister-in-law who won’t even let me talk to her while driving because research indicates that it’s too distracting. They for real nearly get t-boned by a four wheeler while making this video. That would have been an interesting choice for this movie to make. But nah, we continue on. Don’t worry though. Something important is going to get destroyed by a truck run-in later.
Shockingly, the area around the tower is fenced off. Our heroes are going to have to hike in with only the box of Dan’s ashes in Becky’s backpack to keep them company. They have some water, a selfie stick and a drone but no food because the plan is to be back by lunch. SIGH. They come across some vultures eating a still alive coyote and are disturbed. Danger D takes a photo and blathers about survival of the fittest. Danger D, you don’t even know!!! Ah, the delicious foreshadowing. They make it to the tower. It’s quite tall! Hunter is thrilled, Becky is horrified. Hunter’s boobs are like “WE SHALL LEAD THE WAY.”
They clip into each other (not the tower?) and start climbing. Becky has to fight her way through a (perfectly reasonable) panic attack to start but she does it. The tower makes a lot of ominous creaking sounds and shots from below show the support cables straining like Hunter’s sports bra. Loose bolts shake. It’s a literal death trap! They reach the end of the “Eternal Ladder” and have to start climbing out in the wind on the outside of the structure. Fancy names aside, it’s also just another ladder. Becky is losing her shit and wants to go down. Hunter says “if I let you go back down now, fear wins. And I’m not going to let that happen.” Pretty paternalistic, if you ask me. Hunter shakes the ladder FOR FUNSIES and a bolt goes flying down. Gah. They make it to the top! More bolts fall. They take some selfies and some drone footage, as you do. At one point, Hunter dangles off the platform with one hand for some Danger D drone footage. Hunter wants Becky to do it in order to finish the “kicking fear in the dick” process but Becky is having none of it. That is definitely a phrase that a cis-female character in her early 20s would say. “The old Becky would have done it”, says Hunter. We need to allow our friends to grow, Hunter! Becky is filled with shame over the person she’s become. She lets Hunter bully her into taking her own dangling selfie.
Now it’s time to deal with Dan’s ashes. Becky makes a sweet speech before emptying the box into the wind. I half hope for a Lebowski-style ashes blowback but I don’t get one. Hunter is visibly distraught. Everyone needs to pee so they start to head back down. We have an hour left. I repeat, there are somehow still 60 more minutes of movie!
The descent begins and the ladder immediately breaks. Couldn't have seen that coming! Hunter uses her superhuman strength to pull Becky back up to the platform. At first, the ladies are full of adrenaline and joy at having survived. Hahaha! We could have died. Then they look down and realize that they are totally fucked. No way down! No cell service! The lone water bottle is in a backpack that Becky dropped during her fall onto a lower platform! Why doesn’t their backpack have a waist strap? Becky cut her leg! But they do find a rusty box with binoculars and a flare gun. Hunter remains optimistic that someone heard the ladder fall and called for help. Becky, less so. Cue Inception music!
Becky gets out her camera to film some Danger D content and the two ladies immediately get into their shit. Becky thinks Hunter’s a “like whore” who needs to instead be her authentic self. Hunter admits that she does her YouTube stuff because of Dan. His death showed her how short life can be. Becky loves her honesty. They decide to kill her Danger D persona together. Hunter may be a bully about Becky’s climbing fears but Becky is also a bully about Hunter’s job. If they had cell service, I’d suggest a quick Better Health couple’s therapy session from the tower.
Spotted: an old RV on the premises! Hope?
Realization: they HAD cell service down on the ground. Which means they could have it again…if one of their phones was also on the ground! Or closer to the ground! Hunter posts to her many followers to call 911 with the understanding that her phone will try to send the message when they have service. I guess this is true? Google tells me that a phone will try again “at certain intervals”. So…sure. It doesn’t work. Becky comes up with the brilliant idea of throwing the phone down to the ground in one of Hunter’s shoes. FYI Hunter climbed the tour in Converse which is nice product placement and also makes no sense. Who am I to judge though? I hiked the Grand Canyon as a teenager in Chucks. It was very painful. The ladies need more padding and, at last, the push-up bra shows its utility. The phone is egg-drop challenged to the ground. There’s a POV shot from the shoe’s perspective! Ha! Did it work? We don’t know. Vultures begin to circle.
They see a guy with a dog walking around the base of the tower and scream at him! He can’t hear because he’s talking on the phone. Is this really a movie about the evils of technology??? Becky throws her shoes down to get his attention to no avail. He sees the shoe and just plain doesn’t care. The RV is now occupied! They decide to wait until nighttime to shoot their flare. Becky spends her time watching videos from her wedding and flipping through old pics. Hunter spies on the trailer guys and notes that they are definitely a couple “on a dirty weekend away.” What would you know about that, Hunter? Becky zooms in on Hunter in the background of a video of her and Dan dancing, looking jealous and despondent. Noted. It’s flare time! The flare goes up, Hunter waves Becky’s flashlight function on her phone around, the trailer dudes see them and…steal Hunter’s car and flee. FUCK YOU DIRTY WEEKEND TRAILER GUYS.
Later on the dark tower of sadness, Becky’s wound is already starting to smell (medically unlikely). Becky sees that Hunter has a new tattoo on her ankle that says “143”. The pieces finally fall together for our hero. Hunter admits to having a four month affair with Dan prior to the marriage. Becky looks weirdly like Megan Markle in this scene. In the morning, she starts off immediately with the questions. “Who made the first move?” For your reference, it was DAN. Dan sucks. But they were both really drunk so…? Hunter says Dan is the only guy she ever loved. “I loved him but I love you more so I ended it.” Ugh, poor Becky. Also, her skin is starting to look very mottled from…blood loss I guess? Sepsis? I’m not sure what they were going for.
Becky’s alarm goes off. It’s been 24 hours since they dropped the phone. All phone hope is lost.
Hunter decides that she should climb down to get the backpack with the water and the drone. Before she descends, she apologizes to Becky and tells her that she loves her. Becky’s like “whatevs, everything I ever thought was a lie.” Hunter climbs down with her one shoe. She can’t quite reach so she unclips herself and free swings toward the backpack. GAH! She makes it onto the satellite dish where the backpack is stuck. But now she can’t get back to the rope! So many obstacles on this hero’s journey! She uses the selfie stick and gets the backpack to the rope. Genius. Honestly, Hunter is very resourceful. And very strong and brave. Also, not a great friend. She then takes a flying leap and lands on the backpack! Becky pulls her up! Maybe their friendship can be salvaged! She makes it almost all the way to the top of the ladder and falls! But somehow lands on the bag and survives! THE STRESS. Becky pulls her up, groan/screaming all the time.
Once they are reunited, Becky eagerly drinks from their lone water bottle. Hunter declines saying they should ration it. Put a pin in that moment. It’s drone time baby! Becky writes a SOS note in eyeliner on their diner receipt and tucks it into the drone. Things are going smoothly but then, of course, the battery is low and Becky has to fly the drone back to the tower and grab it out of the air. Guess how they’re going to fix this? But first, Becky is going to have a terrible dream about Hunter disappearing and vultures coming to eat her. She wakes up and looks up at the red light at the top of the tower. The phone charging trick from the diner is about to come into play! But not until daylight. Becky and Hunter are both starting to look rough. Their faces are all chapped, their arms are sunburned but amazingly everyone’s cleavage still looks good. Ah, the male gaze. Becky mentions that her wound smells but doesn’t hurt anymore which concerns me. It’s time for her to pole dance up to the light at the top of the tower. Hunter sings “Cherry Pie'' to her to motivate her, complete with “whoos!” Groan, scream, groan, Becky charges the drone on the light. Then, in maybe the most stressful moment of the movie, vultures begin attacking her drawn by the smell of her leg gangrene. Gah! Becky hangs on, the director includes a downward boob shot to show that the drone is charged and she climbs on down using her dance muscles. They wait to send off the drone until checkout time when they’re might be people around. Becky looks at pics on her phone (still fully charged!) and laments not being able to text her Dad (who was totally right about Dan). Hunter helps keep her awake by asking her what she and her Dad liked to do together. The answer is watch WWE. Becky lists off a bunch of vintage wrestlers. Hunter remains perky. Then it’s drone time! The drone makes it all the way to the hotel…only to get smashed to pieces by a truck. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Becky’s soul dies a thousand deaths. A vulture takes residence over their heads. She wants to send another message with her phone and asks Hunter for her other shoe. AND THEN THE TWIST. Hunter died getting the backpack up to her! Ghost Hunter has been helping her since. Also, Ghost Hunter is kind of mean. This realization is rough for Becky. She wastes precious water resources by crying about it. Then a storm comes! Jesus Christ, how much more can one widow take? She watches videos of her Dad on her phone and leaves him a VM about how she found her fight again and wants to live but she’s probably going to die up on a tower, etc. She says the only thing a parent truly wants to hear and it is: “You were right about everything and I’m sorry about that.” It’s morning, the vultures are back. Becky plays dead and then fights a vulture to death so she can eat it. She’s covered in blood like a vampire. But she’s also ready to do what needs to be done. Survival of the fittest, yadda yadda yadda.
And now, the piece de resistance! Becky climbs down to Hunter’s dead body. Triumphant music plays! She confronts another vulture that’s busy feeding on Hunter’s body and the vulture is like “get me the fuck away from this vulture vampire!” Becky tells dead Hunter that she loves her and then takes her phone, writes an SOS text message to her Dad, puts in in the remaining Converse and SHOVES THE WHOLE THING INTO HUNTER’S OPEN ABDOMINAL CAVITY, apologizing the whole time. She rolls Hunter’s body off the tower. HAHA! This movie is so great.
JDM drives like a bat out of hell to the site which is already flooded with emergency personnel. He sees Hunter’s body, thinks the worst but then Becky is like “I’m over here and I’m alive and somehow not already at a hospital dealing with my gangrenous leg!” She tells him she’s going to be fine (REALLY?) and they head home NOT TO THE HOSPITAL FOR IV ANTIBIOTICS AND/OR DIRECTLY TO AN INPATIENT PSYCH EVAL. Um, ok. A little anticlimactic. She talks about how life is short in a voice over and we fade to credits.
What have we learned?
Always bring a battery pack wherever you go, be it to a diner for no visible food or to the top of a rusty tower of sadness.
Don’t be afraid to look outside of your immediate friend group for romantic partners.
Dudes who say “1-4-3” instead of “I love you” are sociopathic cheaters.
Parents are always right and know everything.
If you want to get over a terrible trauma, seek out a worse trauma to take its place in your brain.
Birds will try to kill you one way or another, as will trucks.
My friend and first reader Connie found this excellent Reddit thread about the technical inaccuracies of the climbing components of the film if you’re interested. Even the thread title is funny: “New best worst climbing movie. 2022's "Fall". It's like The Room for climbing movies.”
I was in Seattle recently and saw a fantastic exhibit at the Museum of Popular Culture called Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop. The exhibit’s centerpiece is a blown-up contact sheet from Biggie’s last photo shoot that is revelatory. .
I nearly lost my mind on my flights watching the two Venom movies. I said it in my Letterboxd review and I’ll say it here, they are the only queer horror comedy films in the current superhero genre (I was going to say the MCU but my sibling reminded me that they are actually in the Sony Spider-Man Universe) and they are both totally BONKERS. Be sure to follow my wonderful friend Sandy for reviews if you’re on Letterboxd. She writes great ones all the time.
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