The Free Fall/The Voices Review - A World of Mystery and Secrets

Summary and Review of The Free Fall/The Voices

Sara: Andrea Londo Nick: Shawn Ashworth Rose: Jane Badler Director: Adam Stilwell Release: 2022 (released as “The Voices” in Canada)

After witnessing an horrific and traumatic event at her parent’s home on the eve of their anniversary, Sara is saved from a suicide attempt and awakens to find her loving husband protecting her from the outside world while she recovers. Unfortunately, she has no memory of this or anything before that. In fact she doesn’t really seem to know her husband, Nick, but in a weakened state, she succumbs to his care. To provide additional help in the house, Nick hires Rose, who doesn’t seem to care for Sara at all. 

Within the confines of their modern gothic home, Sara drifts through her recovery in a dream-like state experiencing nightmares and frightening visions until she's not sure where they end and reality begins. She has no contact with others, including her sister, whom Nick describes as “unforgivable". He displays genuine affection for his fragile wife to aid her recuperation while actively avoiding providing the answers she seeks. Is this just protective spousal concern or something more sinister?

Sara isn’t certain that all is quite as it should be and is disturbed further when a mysterious stranger arrives at the house to tell her he is a friend of her sister’s and that she's worried about her. As Sara starts to remember fragments of the night of her suicide, doubts surface about the events that led her here and the true intentions of Nick and Rose.

As we journey through Sara’s confusion, the scenes transition from day-to-day activity to abstract visuals giving the disorientating effect that the viewer, like Sara, doesn't know what’s real and what isn’t. In many respects, this was cleverly done but, although the uncertainty and bewilderment reflected Sara’s experience, as a viewer it became confusing. Effective to a point, it could be dizzying and irritating by turn, compounded by the impression that the camera was panning on an unruly shopping trolley, at times.

The fear factor drew more on psychological horror rather than old-fashioned jump scares, although many a traditional horror device was employed from Sara’s detached mirror reflection to vomiting a mysterious substance. It felt a bit overblown but, overall, gave a genuine sense of being in a dream, waking up and then realising you are actually still dreaming. However, fewer cinematic effects of this nature would have made for a punchier narrative with less drift.

With stylish art-house influenced cinematography and a location rich with ornate decoration, this is a good-looking film and the haunting score was carefully constructed to match every mood change. There were some impressive set-pieces to admire so watch out for the scenes in the rose garden and at the dinner party.

There was a lot to like about this film, although initially I thought otherwise, given the melodramatic opening scenes, but as the narrative progressed, I found myself drawn into this lush world of secrets and mystery. The leads gave great performances with Londo’s fragile innocence in sharp relief to Ashworth’s coercive guidance, ably supported by Badler, who was chilling in her cold menace.

This is an interesting take on an old theme (I won’t say what as that would be something of a spoiler) and delivers a startling twist as the film gradually reveals its secrets. An 82 minute runtime keeps it neat and, despite some shortcomings, it is definitely worth a watch. 



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