Tag Archives: Virginia Gardner

Don’t Look Down


by Hope Madden

YouTubers are stupid. I think that’s the basic theme of Fall, the story of influencers proving their erroneous sense of immortality and bone-deep need for attention.

Lessons are learned and lunches are lost as two friends scale a defunct radio tower 2000+ feet into the sky. Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) is trying to overcome grief and find a reason to live again. Her best friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner) is the one who convinced her to face her fears, but if Hunter can impress her online fanbase while they’re at it, all the better.

It’s all superfluous, telegraphed nonsense because what’s the real point here? How well can director Scott Mann and cinematographer MacGregor (Vivarium) capture fit young women in gut-churning danger?

Pretty well.

Strong supporting performance by Garner’s bra, by the way.

The story itself is cobbled together from other sources–a touch of The Descent here, a whole scoop of The Shallows there, plenty of Open Water, lots of Frozen (no, not the “Let It Go” Frozen). Essentially, dumbasses get themselves into serious danger and we sit with them until they probably die.

Believable? No. Thrillingly shot? Yes.

Fall delivers gorgeous, stomach-churning action. The footage is really quite stunning, so if you’re going to watch it, find a big screen.

A story this spare can be and has been effective when done well, which is to say, when done lean and mean. Fall’s biggest downfall is not the acting (entirely competent), not the cloying emotional underpinnings (forgivable), not the leaps in logic. It’s not the dream sequences (the laziest plot device in all of cinema). It’s not even that one surprise twist that we all saw coming. Or the other one.

It’s the running time.

Fall clocks in at an hour and 45 minutes, which is far too long for this film. Mann and company can’t sustain the tension through the middle section well enough to merit the length. The Shallows ran under 90 minutes. Open Water delivered its powerful blow in less than an hour and twenty minutes. Shave half an hour off this film and you have yourself a brisk, dizzying effort worth a trip to the cinema.

Starry Eyes


by Rachel Willis

Still reeling from the loss of her friend, Grace, Aubrey (Virginia Gardner) finds herself facing the end of the world in director A.T. White’s film, Starfish.

After breaking into Grace’s apartment in an attempt to connect to her friend, Aubrey hears a walkie-talkie spring to life. The static coming from the device implies someone might be listening, and Aubrey is momentarily compelled to speak to whoever is on the other end. This is our first hint that not all was well in Grace’s life, with more hints coming before the film takes a deep dive into its world-ending scenario.

There’s a mystery involved that’s best not spoiled, and it isn’t always clear what’s real and what’s imagined, but it works well to us engaged, and haunting images feed the increasing unease.

As a metaphor for grief, Starfish is a curious, interesting take. Aubrey moves through the stages of grief while, outside the apartment, the world is falling apart. She spends time in an apathetic cycle, her only companions a box turtle and a couple of jellyfish (who eat desiccated starfish, apparently). Aubrey’s anger manifests in violent ways, and she’s utterly alone with her sorrow.

Gardner does an excellent job conveying the gauntlet of emotions roiling inside her character. Her performance is easily the film’s strongest element.

There are also a number of exciting and tense scares, and the effectively oppressive score amplifies the more terrifying elements. However, where the score is effective at producing tension, the soundtrack doesn’t always fit the mood. Some of the song choices are out of place. While many of them are meant to represent Aubrey and Grace’s friendship, they disrupt the film’s intensity.

The film takes risks. Some of them work, and some of them don’t, but it’s always intriguing to watch something different, something that challenges us to think outside the box on what a movie can be.