“The Free Fall,” a horror thriller movie and the solo directorial debut from Whitefish native Adam Stilwell, will begin hitting theaters in January and a trailer is available now online.
In a statement to the entertainment news website Collider, Stillwell called the movie “a deep dive into the brutal confusion of a manipulative relationship” and “a horrific look at obsession and gaslighting that can possess us when we’re at our very worst.” note: 2gether Movie Version
“It’s definitely a genre horror film. It doesn’t pull any punches. It goes there,” Stilwell told the Beacon in a phone interview from his residence in the Los Angeles area. He added that “it’s not just a straight-up slasher movie where there’s blood and guts.” note: The Omen Movie
“There’s a lot more beneath the surface that might be of interest, and you might come out having a conversation about the film, rather than just a rollercoaster ride, which I hope it is as well. It’s a psychological kind of head trip of a movie.” note: DEIFIED Movie
The basic premise of the movie is that it follows a woman after a suicide attempt as she continues to deal with an abusive, manipulative husband. note: 2gether movie version: Just because we were born a pair Movie
“The Free Fall” stars Andrea Londo, who has previously appeared in TV shows including Netflix’s “Narcos” and the FX show “Snowfall.” Opposite Londo is Shawn Ashmore, who played Iceman in the early 2000s X-Men movies. Also starring in the movie is American and Australian actress Jane Badler, who is known for her role in the 1980s NBC science fiction mini-series “V” and its sequel “V: The Final Battle.”
“It’s a big stepping stone,” Stilwell said of what the movie represents in his roughly 15-year career in film. “It was just a massive learning experience.”
Producer David Blair, like Stilwell, also has Whitefish ties, and he’s not the only person involved in the movie who has a local connection. Aside from Blair, who is a Whitefish resident, there’s also Nathaniel Peterson. Peterson is from Whitefish and is a longtime friend of Stilwell’s and Blair’s. He has an acting role in “The Free Fall” and is also one of the producers. The three have worked on other projects including the 2016 movie “The Triangle,” which was shot north of Billings and involved a cast with several Whitefish actors.
“We’ve been at it forever,” Stilwell said of his work with Peterson and Blair. “It’s just kind of cool that this one’s breaking through a little bit.”
The script had been sitting around for almost a decade. Blair, who works as a screenwriter, said that it underwent heavy work that was completed in about 2013. Eventually the financing was there to make the movie happen.
The script was originally written by Kent Harper as a TV pilot, according to Stilwell. Blair worked it over with Stilwell and Peterson into a feature length screenplay, which was reworked again by Stilwell in the lead-up to production.
“It took so long, but then once the train left the station, it just was going,” Blair said.
Filming in L.A. wrapped in 2019 after roughly a month, and post-production work was one to two weeks away from being done when pandemic concerns in the U.S. began to escalate rapidly in March 2020 and work on the movie was paused for weeks. Work was being done to tweak the sound, and one of the lead actors, Sean Ashmore, needed to record some additional dialogue.
“I can’t complain because I have friends who were a week away from finishing shooting a movie and had to shut down. Then you’re really screwed,” Stilwell said.
The movie has been on the festival circuit lately, most recently at Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia. Stilwell said planning is ongoing but he’s hoping for the film to screen somewhere in the Flathead Valley when it comes out on Jan. 14.
According to Blair, the movie will have a limited release, which could expand depending upon the reception the movie gets from audiences. The movie will also eventually be available to stream.
“On the surface it feels like a gaslighting husband,” said Blair. “By the end of the film it’s something that’s entirely different that I think that audiences are not going to see coming, and that’s what’s exciting about it.”
Blair said the movie harkens back to horror films from decades past like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Shining.”
“I think people who like a psychological thriller that will stay with you and kind of creep you out when you’re lying in bed at night trying to think about other things…I think that this movie is gonna creep its way back into your brain.”