Before The Fall

Before The Fall


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The idea of combining an apocalyptic drama with a serial killer thriller is certainly an unusual one. The action of Javier Guitierrez's film opens with the news that the earth is on borrowed time thanks to a meteorite due to hit terra firma in 72 hours. The world, needless to say, is thrown into a panic that sees people flee and jails overrun. It is this latter development which strikes the most fear into the heart of one small-town gran, who finds herself less concerned with the plight of all the planet's life-forms than she is with the fear that a serial killer her elder son helped capture, will make revenge on her family his first stop after escaping jail.

Convincing her misanthropic second son that he has to take her to the home of her grandchildren is easier said than done and, even once there it seems his bad attitude may be the ruin of them all, when her prophecies come to pass and the family's children become a target.

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Guitirrez makes a virtue of his limited budget, opting to keep his camera tight in on his central characters while suggesting chaos surrounding them, rather than trying to recreate scenes which would just look cheap. Employing the sort of rubble strewn streets used so well by John Carpenter in Escape From New York, he suggests the wider picture with the use of strategically placed TV news.

His scenes are very carefully composed, always making sure to use the full depth, adding to the feelings of desolation at the isolated home of the brother's family. The children's roles are also well-scripted, particularly the youngest siblings, with one scene between the objectionable Alejandro (Víctor Clavijo) and his youngest nephew particulary well-realised. Mariana Cordero as the grandma, is also terrific, her face a mask of stressed-out concern for her family, in contrast with her son's couldn't care less attitude.

Although, as a premise it is utterly nihilistic - "There is no hope after the impact", we are told right from the start - at its heart this is a very humanistic drama, showing man's faith in one another even in the face of hopelessness. The film is a little uneven, with the serial killer threat working rather more convincingly than the apocalyptic scenario - especially towards the back quarter, when the impending doom of the planet is shelved for rather too long in order to let the film's thriller elements play out.

There is also some ill-advised use of handheld camera which results in a, literally and figuratively shaky attempt to engender confusion, while the scoring is somewhat patchy. Despite this, there is plenty of imminent danger to provide a gripping narrative and it marks a confident debut, even if the ending does tie things up rather too neatly for its own good.

Reviewed on: 27 Feb 2009
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Before The Fall packshot
A family face a serial killer... and the apocalypse.

Director: F Javier Gutiérrez

Writer: F Javier Gutiérrez, Juan Velarde

Starring: Víctor Clavijo, Mariana Cordero, Eduard Fernández, Juan Galván, Ana de las Cuevas, Daniel Casadellà, Elvira de Armiñán, Marilo Muñoz, Vicente Romero, Pepe Salas

Year: 2008

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Spain


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