TAD 2021: The Free Fall dir. Adam Stilwell

Toronto After Dark delivers a gaslighting character thriller with The Free Fall, enjoying its Canadian premiere, and comes in as one of my favorite films of the festival. That being said, I saw the truth of what was going on before everything was revealed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable ride.

Sara (Andrea Londo) attempted to take her life, and has been haunted by nightmares of her past which she can’t recall. She is recuperating in her home, minded by her husband, Nick (Shawn Ashmore), who can turn from adoring to cold and overbearing at a moment’s notice, and a strange housekeeper, Rose (Jane Badler) who seems to have a sinister purpose in the house.

Haunted by visions, Sara puts her trust in Nick, but, consequently, she is cut off from everyone else around her, but for those Nick deems acceptable. As Sara begins to explore the house, and her own past, she finds more questions than answers, and is increasingly frightened by the half-answers she is afforded by Nick.

There are hints at the truth placed throughout the film, and perhaps that’s why I cottoned to it so early, but I greatly enjoyed how it was executed and carried out. Londo is vulnerable and believable, Ashmore is by turns charming and creepy, and Badler has always been a delight. Stilwell mixes them altogether with moody cinematography (DP – James Kniest) and a story by Kent Harper to give us a unique spin on some familiar ideas.

I love the way the film is shot, there is a real sense of dread permeating the frame, and makes Londo look incredibly vulnerable throughout, until she too begins to put some of the pieces together. Ashmore owns the frame, dominating it, and Londo’s character, and it makes for a bit of an unnerving performance.

I would have liked to have seen a slightly longer film, with the moments, and the truth drawn out a little more, things to add to the paranoia and fear that Sara was already experiencing, but overall, it’s a sleek little nightmare of a thriller that interprets some recognizable tropes into a new form, and it works wonderfully.

It’s damned entertaining, and shows, once again, that the programmers of Toronto After Dark want to find those films that you may have missed, shining a light on the darker corners of the genres that some fear to venture into, and with The Free Fall, they reveal an enjoyable thriller.

So check this one out, or hit up the Toronto After Dark Film Festival page here, and find tickets and titles to watch under the covers, with your popcorn and beverage, and I’ll be looking for you in Toronto… After Dark!

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