Mountain climbing movies are a strange niche in cinema. There aren’t that many of them, and when they do come along they can take on any kind of genre or tone, with action adventure movies like Cliffhanger, docudrama’s like Touching The Void, and comedies like The Climb. As such, if you’re into climbing and want to see your hobby portrayed on screen you’re never really sure what kind of thing you’re going to get. The Ledge is the latest release to join this unusual mix, and one that fans of more serious films might want to check out.
The story follows two young women, Kelly (Brittany Ashworth) and Sophie (Anaïs Parello), who are preparing to climb a remote mountain in order to commemorate Kelly’s fiance who passed away. As they’re prepping for their journey, a group of men arrive at the cabin next door. This group of loud and abrasive young men are also looking for fun, but are more interested in partying than climbing. When they invite the women to join them Sophie is up for it, whilst Kelly reluctantly agrees.
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After spending some time with the guys, Kelly heads back to the cabin, whilst Sophie continues to party on. It’s during this time that we see the leader of group, Joshua (Ben Lamb), has a serious temper on him. There were already hints at this point that he wasn’t the nicest of guys, but when he tries to rape Sophie after she insults him he ends up throwing her off a ledge. When his friends gather round him and the wounded woman they agree that if they go to the police they’ll certainly face prison time, so come to the decision to kill Sophie and stage it as a murder. Unfortunately for them, Kelly has not only seen everything, but she’s managed to film them in the act too.
When the men realise that Kelly has evidence a chase begins, with Kelly ascending the mountain alone and without her full gear, in order to escape them. Thus begins a desperate fight for survival as Kelly tries to escape her friend’s killers whilst they become willing to do whatever it takes to keep her from reporting them to the authorities.
The first thing that I’ll say about The Ledge to anyone who might be interested in watching the film is don’t watch the trailer. Seriously, it gives the entire movie away. Not only does it give you the basic set-up for the film like I’ve just covered, but it also details everything that happens on the climb, and leaves very little unrevealed. Unfortunately, I did see the trailer before watching the film, and as such there was little here that took me by surprise; but if you go into this film knowing nothing beyond the basic set-up there’s a lot here to enjoy.
To begin with, the film doesn’t feel the need to rush into things, and spends some time before the big event setting up the characters and getting to know them. Sophie and Kelly are women who are quite different from each other, with Sophie being the more outgoing of the two, and the one who seems most up for having fun with the group of guys. Kelly, on the other hand, is more serious, more reserved, and over the course of the film we get flashbacks that explain more about who she is as a person and why she’s so different from Sophie. Both actresses play their parts well, and despite how much they contrast with each other you do genuinely believe that they’re friends.
The group of guys don’t get as much character development, apart from the leader, Joshua. Straight away we see that there’s something not right with Joshua. He has an edge to him, he seems to have his position of leader of the group thanks to the sense of fear the others have about him, as well as him knowing secrets about them that they don’t want to get out. Before he even tries to rape Sophie and ends up killing her he’s bad news, and Ben Lamb seems to be perfect as the entitled douchebag who feels he can do whatever he wants, no matter who he hurts along the way.
Over the course of the film, as the chase begins and the characters end up on the mountain, we begin to see divisions amongst the men, and some of them start to express sorrow over what they’ve done, regret about this and past evil deeds. But despite this, the film never really tries to have us feeling like the men are anything but the villains, and the audience keeps getting reminded that they chose to do these, and other, awful things, and delights in using Kelly as a way of punishing them for their crimes.
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The film isn’t perfect by any means, and there are a few times where things seem to slow down quite a bit and it relies on slow burn tension to keep things interesting, rather than having a desperate climb chase to freedom. Some folks might like this choice, and it does allow the characters to have some quieter moments to really delve into who they are, but I was hoping things would be a bit more dramatic and dangerous at times.
The Ledge tells the story of a group of men who think that they can use their power and strength to do whatever they want, to harm others and get away with it because of their position in society; and whilst a young woman has to die at their hands before they finally start to be punished for this it does end up being a story about evil men getting what they deserve. And in a world where far too many men are able to abuse, harm, and kill without consequence, it’s sometimes nice to see some punishment finally getting dished out.
The Ledge is out on Digital Platforms on 14th March and DVD on 21st March from Signature Entertainment.