Jonathan Glazer is scary-good at what he does. His last feature film, 2014's Under the Skin, showed off the indie director's effortless talents for maximizing drama and well-crafted visuals out of a solid elevator pitch of an idea (Scarlet Johansson is an alien in human form, in Scotland, luring human men into her van for, well, just watch the movie).
While Skin received mixed-ish reviews, film fans (no pun intended) ate it up and have waited the better part of a decade for Glazer's next effort. Well, A24 just released it and (spoilers) it is pretty great.
Glazer's The Fall is the most unsettling seven minutes you will watch today. The Fall centers on a masked mob tying a noose around a man's neck and celebrating with a selfie before their victim struggles his way back from the titular fall. The low-fi short showcases Glazer's distinct narrative style, with an emphasis on many dialogue-free scenes as he ratchets up our anxiety and dread. The subtle score from Mica Levi also helps.
Watch the full film right here.
“I think fear is ever-present,” Glazer said. “And that drives people to irrational behavior. A mob encourages an abdication of personal responsibility. The rise of National Socialism in Germany, for instance, was like a fever that took hold of people. We can see that happening again.”
What You Can Learn
Glazer's short is a Swiss watch of visual storytelling. The minimalist dialogue and unnerving tension helps propel the emotional stakes to a near fever-pitch. And it is all achieved mostly with visuals and eerie sound design.
Granted, most of us do not have the financial backing of an A24 to afford the production values seen here. At the same time, what we lack in budget we can make up for in inventiveness and streamlining our stories to fit the scope and scale we can afford. Let sound design do the work for you; if you can't afford to shoot it visually, audio design is there to make up for it.
Content follows form, and Glazer's work here in that regard is inspiring. The story is also rooted in our current and unfortunate political climate. Like all great horror or sci-fi movies, the best ones are those that ground their genre narratives within timely themes -- that use the genre as a way to smuggle a story in that has more than jump scares or set pieces on its mind. (Think Get Out.)
Glazer does just that with The Fall, and we can't wait to see what he does next with a feature film. (In 2020, Glazer's feature-length Holocaust drama is due.)