Running away from a villain is familiar in thrillers and horror films. These scenes take place primarily on foot, in open or enclosed spaces, and often in the dark to intensify the stakes and possible deadly outcome for the film’s protagonist – but they always put up a fight. It isn’t often we see a chase executed in such a unique way like in The Ledge. Howard J. Ford’s film sees a woman’s life literally hang in the balance as she climbs the face of the 11 thousand foot Dolomite Mountains to escape the hunters on her tail. 

Gearing up for an epic climb is Kelly (Brittany Ashworth) and Sophie (Anaïs Parello). An opening shot of the Italian mountain range accompanied by an energetic score emphasizes what a thrilling feat this will be for them, but that’s shattered when a group of guys shows up. Josh (Ben Lamb), the leader of the group, attempts to attract the ladies with a charming smile and awkward flirtations, but his obvious aggression triggers red flags for the viewer. Suspense and panic set in quickly as Josh and his friends attack Sophie. Kelly is a witness to the shocking aftermath and filming it puts a target on her back. She doesn’t know the surrounding woods, so instead of running for her life, her survival will depend on her skill of the climb. 

As the men pursue close behind her, equipped with the appropriate gear, Kelly is left with just her hands and feet. It’s suspenseful because of how dangerous this undertaking is for her. Every placement of her body must be done with care as she risks falling at any moment. It gets especially stressful when you can see the physical toll it’s taking on her with her blistered and aching hands. The camera is primarily in close-up during this main stretch of the film, but the camera also pans out occasionally to show how high Kelly is and how close the men are to her. Throughout the chase, she’s thinking of her deceased fiancee, presented in several flashback sequences. While pretty cheesy, they’re a few seconds of respite for her, as this love story between her and her rock-climbing coach, Luca (Stefan Knezević), is what’s keeping her going. What she learned from him is guiding her – literally as a disembodied voice – and she puts up a tough fight. Meanwhile, she’s not the only one who fears for their life. Josh’s buddies are having enough of his games, and it may just be as much of a battle to survive for them as it is for her, with Josh’s psychotic nature kicking into high gear. Luckily, the filmmakers don’t attempt to make the audience feel sympathy for them.

The Ledge is an interesting premise for a thriller and not just on paper. It’s executed well and this has a lot to do with Ashworth’s performance. She may have few lines, but she succeeds in conveying the fear and exhaustion that anyone would feel in that situation and she also displays the physicality that such scenes demand. It’s good that she didn’t have much to say, because Tom Boyle’s dialogue is the worst part of the film, almost ruining the experience completely. It’s awful from the start. It’s exposition-heavy at first with regards to the male characters, with name drops and references to things unknown to the viewer. It’s confusing and makes it hard to under the dark history they clearly have, and Boyle fails to give Kelly’s friend Sophie the same characterization. The dialogue is also full of homophobic remarks, delivered by Lamb, written like they’re supposed to be jokes, and instead of proper conversations between the male and female characters, their exchanges are raunchy. Any intended comedy falls flat. It’s easy to understand why Josh would say the things he does because affection between heterosexual men is viewed as something queer, but this and all the dialogue is intolerable to sit through. The sub-par performances of these actors don’t help anything, but they’re surely due to weaknesses in the script. There are many violent and brutal moments in the film, but our heroine doesn’t get to deliver any satisfying blows. The film is unintentionally comedic at its climax which creates an awkward ending.

At its core, The Ledge is about how shitty toxic masculinity is and how it’s a cycle that never seems to end because bros will be bros and have each other’s backs. Any voice of reason is drowned out by the others, and any show of remorse is seen as a weakness. This is a topic of importance and concern, but any commentary on it remains surface level here. The film does end with emphasis on one thing: This culture of hate won’t bring women down. 

Movie Score: 2.5/5

  • Sara Clements
    About the Author - Sara Clements

    Sara Clements has been a freelance film/TV writer since 2017. She's from Canada and holds a degree in journalism. She has written for both print and online and is an editor for Next Best Picture. Her love of horror started quite late as her first taste of it (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) resulted in her sleeping in her mother's room for a year and having to go see a therapist. She got over that trauma, thankfully, and now loves immersing herself in a genre she's missed out on.