Death Falls (1991) review

Death Falls (1991) review

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Such a poorly known film, the only image from it is the YouTube still.
Such a poorly known film, the only image from it is the YouTube still.

Twitter Plot Summary: A wrangler comes under fire when he owes money to Jeffrey Combs, but decides to help his terminally ill friend escape hospital.

Rip Torn is Dub Farley, a wrangler who is short on cash and has a number of typical vices – drinking, gambling etc. He’s under threat from Lonnie (Jeffrey Combs) who is looking to recoup the gambling debts owed to him, and also has news that his friend Hals (Roberts Blossom) is terminally ill and is currently stuck in hospital. Whilst deflecting the attempts of Lonnie to get his money back, Dub talks to his horses and plots to help Hals get out of the hospital. He also manages to upset the local sheriff (Kaz Garas), which if you know your screenwriting 101 means that all of these various elements are likely to be thrown together for the finale. And, of course, they are.

The tone is one of near whimsy, lighthearted country music makes up much of the soundtrack, and Torn has a shotgun that frequently goes off without warning or intent, with erm… hilarious consequences. Except it’s not that funny, mostly because the whole film feels like one of those mid-afternoon telemovie productions, albeit one with plenty of swearing that wouldn’t pass muster at 3pm of a weekday afternoon. The jokes never work and it feels like the entire production is nothing more than a tired attempt at film making, as if everyone is just there to pay the bills. Much like Jaws 4, then.

Yep, it's as bad as it looks.
Yep, it’s as bad as it looks.

Rip Torn is reliably solid as Dub, but that’s mostly because he doesn’t have to do anything except look grumpy and shout at people. Jeffrey Combs is also a reliable presence, although again his role is limited to a lot of angry acting and also shouting at people, whether it’s Dub or his slightly simple goon of a friend. His standout moments comes in what passes for a car chase, again with a lot of shouting and overacting. Finally there’s Beverly Garland, an actress who deserved to be in far better stuff than this. Then again, looking back at her list of credits, it’s not all that different from her usual fare. Pity, that.

By the time things start to get interesting – that is, when Dub has finally broken Hals out of hospital and they go on the lam – it’s already too late to care at all about anything they do. Which in this case amounts to running off into the forest for a bit with a horse like a terrible version of Brokeback Mountain, chased by Lonnie and the local police. The finale may wrap everything up reasonably well, but again it’s wrapping up a story that is hard to care about. The end couldn’t come sooner enough.

Even despite running for a lean 83 minutes the plot still feels incredibly slow paced thanks to the lack of proper story and those occasional jokes never hitting their mark. It wouldn’t be so bad if it had a point to make about anything, yet it can’t even give us that. It’s fair to say that this is typical TV movie fare, and hardly deserving of any attention unless you really have nothing better to do with your time.

Score: 1/5

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