Wes Craven’s Don’t Look Down
June 3, 2005
Starring: Megan Ward, Billy Burke, Terry Kinney, Angela Moore, William McDonald, Kate Robbins, Aaron Smolinski, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Zachary Lee, Bob Morrisey, Britt McKillip, Carly McKillip, John Treleaven, Maria Herrera, John Innes, ,
The name Wes Craven should conjure up many favourable images for horror fans, as he’s been dubbed ‘the master of the horror genre’. Unfortunately the tag ‘Wes Craven presents….’ doesn’t exactly to the same thing, as that brought ‘Mindripper’, ‘Wishmaster’ and ‘Carnival of Souls’ to our attention. ‘Don’t Look Down’ is a little off tangent from Craven’s usual scare tactics and bogeymen villains and provides an excellent depiction of the psychological traumas in dealing with the death of a loved one and suffering with a fear of heights.
Young newly married couple, Mark, a photographer, and his beautiful wife; Carla, go to a remote mountain top location for a photo shoot. The tranquil atmosphere is killed when Carla’s sister Rachel accidentally plunges to her death in front of Carla and forever etches her falling face into her mind. Back in the city, Carla begins to feel trapped by the nightmare experience and begins to fear heights. Seeking out Dr. Sadowski, she joins his experimental programme for treating acrophobia. Now seeing visions of her dead sister and members of the acrophobia group being systematically killed, Carla begins to doubt her sister’s demise, her own sanity and the trust of those around her.
This is a made for television movie and it feels like it. It stars television actor Megan Ward as Carla who you may have seen in ‘Melrose Place’ and ‘Dark Skies’, she puts on a remarkable performance considering the weakness of the subplots and supporting characters. ‘Don’t Look Down’ scribe Gregory Goodall takes a good story and really ruins the pace with truly awful development throughout. He also decides that the classic, ‘let’s give characters a believable motive’ is above him and churns out some unbelievably disappointing twists, followed up with some shocking waffle and a failure of tension for the final scenes
Director Larry Shaw, also known for TV stints on ‘X-Files’ and ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ does an inspiring job. He uses the camera well to help you identify with dizzying feelings that Carla has to deal with. Through his clever direction, we are never quite sure as to how the story is panning out: supernatural horror/thriller or psychological drama and is the only reason that an audience will hold on to the film to the very end. The high locations are used to their advantage, weather it be, a mountaintop, the highest level of a multi-storey car park or ascending a tower block in a glass elevator. It’s not ‘Vertigo’, but the point is made well.
It’s easy to see why Wes Craven would lend his name to the piece as it is quite reminiscent of the nervous nature of his very early work like, ‘Last House on the Left’ and ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ but without the controversy and visceral imagery that surrounds them. Of the limited ‘Wes Craven presents…’ line ‘Don’t Look Down’ is defiantly the best one.
There’s a chapter selection option from an unimpressive menu screen.