The Ledge (2022) poster

The Ledge (2022)

Rating:


UK. 2022.

Crew

Director – Howard J. Ford, Screenplay – Tom Boyle, Producers – Milos Dukelic, Fred Hedman & Kate Hoffman, Photography – Vladimir Ilic, Music – Imran Ahmad, Visual Effects – Dreamdust VFX (Supervisor – Aleksandar Visnijc), Makeup Effects Designer – Olga Baturan, Production Design – Vladimir Vicentic. Production Company – Evolution Pictures/Red Production/Head Gear Films/Metrol Technology/Kreo Films/Trigger Films.

Cast

Brittany Ashworth (Kelly), Ben Lamb (Josh), Luis Boyer (Zach), Nathan Welsh (Reynolds), Anais Parello (Sophie), David Wayman (Taylor), Stefan Knezevic (Luca)


Plot

Kelly has come to climb a mountain, along with her friend Sophie. A year earlier, Kelly’s boyfriend was killed as they tried to climb the sheer face of the same mountain. As the girls settle in to the cabin, they meet a bachelor party of four guys who are planning on climbing the mountain, although they intend to take a pathway that is a far easier route. The two of them party with the guys that night. Kelly goes to bed early, while Sophie stays and starts to make out with the group’s leader Josh. However, Josh becomes aggressive and tries to force himself on her. Sophie runs away but Josh and the others pursue and kill her. Kelly is woken from her sleep and films them throwing her body over a cliff to make it look like a climbing accident. They spot Kelly and so she flees, climbing up the sheer face of the mountain. They pursue, managing to snatch some of her climbing gear. As they take the pathway up, they are able to get to a position above her, leaving Kelly precariously trapped on a tiny ledge below them.


British director Howard J. Ford has made a modest if largely unrecognised body of films, beginning with the quite good The Dead (2010), a zombie film set in Africa. He and his brother Jonathan co-directed a decent sequel The Dead 2: India (2013). On his own, Howard went on to make the non-genre likes of the thriller Never Let Go (2015) and the children’s film Adventure Boyz (2019).

The Ledge was the second film that Howard J. Ford made during the 2020-2 Corona Virus pandemic. The first was the entirely negligible The Lockdown Hauntings (2021), which felt like it was being made with minimal resources during lockdown but with not a great deal of creativity placed into it. On the other hand, The Ledge was made with full resources. It was shot on a mountainside is Serbia – when you see Brittany Ashworth on the side of the mountain, there are no studio shots, it is her hanging there along with a camera mounted on a giant crane arm. Ford says he was attracted to the script after suffering a similar accident where he was trapped on a mountainside for seven hours following a snowboarding accident.

The premise of the woman trapped on a tiny rock ledge as people tried to kill her hooked me from the moment I heard it. This places The Ledge into the genre of Imprisonment Thrillers. There is a mini-genre of these based around people trapped inside as small a space as possible. This began with Phone Booth (2002) in which Colin Farrell was trapped in a phone booth by a sniper and Buried (2010) where Ryan Reynolds was locked in a coffin for the duration of the film. We have seen a number of variations on this in the ensuing years with the likes of Frozen (2010) with three characters trapped in mid-air aboard a ski chairlift; ATM (2012) with three people trapped in an ATM booth by a killer; both Detour (2013) and Curve (2015) with characters trapped in an SUV; Landmine Goes Click (2015) with a character trapped standing on a landmine; The Shallows (2016) in which Blake Lively is stranded on a rock by the tide and menaced by a lurking shark; 200 Degrees (2017) in which Eric Balfour is trapped inside a heat kiln; Serpent (2017) with a couple trapped in a tent with a deadly snake; and Shut In (2022) with a woman locked in a wardrobe by an abusive ex. Coming out not long after this was Fall (2022), which has a not dissimilar premise where two girls are trapped atop a two thousand foot television mast following a climbing accident.

Brittany Ashworth on a mountainside in The Ledge (2022)
Brittany Ashworth on the sheer face of a mountainside

The Ledge starts to work well when Howard J. Ford gets to the scenes of Brittany Ashworth climbing the rock face – with her bare hands, no less, having had her climbing equipment snatched as the guys tried to stop her. Ford winds up the tension, following her as she reaches for every miniscule handhold and outcrop, having to jump out into open air with only a fall beneath, encountering a rattlesnake as she reaches into a small cut in the rock, or one of the guys following only a couple of feet behind trying to pull her back down.

The most tension-laden moments come during the scenes with Brittany Ashworth forced to spend the night huddled on the titular ledge, which is no larger than a standard coffee-table, while the guys are on the rock path about three metres above her. The most hair-raising scenes come when she manages to find an abandoned tent from a previous expedition – one that has been left hanging strung up from a piton – and relaxes to spend the night in it, only for Ben Lamb to place a backpack on a rope and swing it down to batter the tent before sending Luis Boyer down to finish her off, ending with Brittany hanging precariously by her fingertips from the cloth of the collapsing tent while fighting for her life.

The one criticism I would make of The Ledge is a gender issue. Woke Cinema seems to have unleashed an apparent freedom for all and sundry to deliver anti-men sentiments in a big way. The Ledge seems to pile it on in a way that goes over-the-top. Ben Lamb is embodied with so many compounded evils that that he almost become a cartoonishly exaggerated super-villain – he is a frat boy (from, it is implied, an elite university); refers to ‘homos’ and calls women ‘bitches’; uses unctuous pick-ups lines; bullies, blackmails and later even kills his friends; cheats on his fiancée; has banged the girlfriend of one of his friends behind their back; is a rapist and a killer; and winds all of his friends into a conspiracy to make the girl he killed look like an accident and murder the one witness.


Trailer here


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