A Lonely Place To Die - Review
Review by Jack Foley
THE first two thirds of Julian Gilbey’s A Lonely Place To Die succeed in delivering a highly effective mix of wilderness chase thriller and horror that suggests a new British classic. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that the final act takes such a disappointing turn.
Clearly taking his cues from the gritty thriller style of the 1970s and peppering them with contemporary horror nods, Gilbey’s film delivers a suitably intriguing premise and is further enhanced by stunning use of Scottish Highlands scenery and a couple of great performances.
But by switching the final action from the wilderness to a more urban environment, Gilbey begins to lose grip on the tautness that came before and descends into stupidity and bad taste elements that threaten to leave a nasty taste.
The film picks up as a group of climbers (including Melissa George’s feisty all-action woman and Ed Speleers self-serving wimp) prepare for a challenging weekend of mountain climbing amid the stark Highlands.
When they discover a non-English speaking little girl buried in a box with just a breathing tube to ensure her survival they intervene to try and bring her help, splitting up to do so. But they quickly find themselves targeted by the ruthless men who have put her there, led by Sean Harris’ cold-hearted killer.
As previously mentioned, Gilbey’s film begins very strongly – some tense, head-spinning climbing sequences giving way to a gradual sense of lurking evil as the woods give rise to all manner of unpleasant, unsparing surprises.
This, in turn, helps to create a sense of unease and tension within the group itself, as members argue over the merits of helping the young girl ahead of saving themselves.
Harris, meanwhile, provides a suitably menacing presence whose calculated villainy represents a formidable opponent for the group.
In that sense, Gilbey’s film can be said to combine the outdoor thrills of chase/survival movies such as Cliffhanger and Deliverance with horror nods to the likes of The Descent (given its use of natural environments to heighten the predicaments of its central players).
But the final third of the film, as all of the interested parties concerned with the girl converge upon a small town during a carnival, is completely ludicrous and almost undermines a lot of the good work that’s done before.
The calculated qualities of the main villains, in particular, is exposed as a folly as they become gun-toting idiots seemingly hell-bent on getting themselves noticed and caught, while a third party connected to the girl also exposes a shady past that carries an unnecessarily sadistic element.
Gilbey also makes a lot of his characters too easily expendable, thereby removing the emotional complexity of what had taken place before, and seems intent on delivering a rushed, ill thought out finale.
It’s a massive shame given what he had managed to achieve in the build-up and which still makes the film worth seeing.
But while certainly forcing audiences to reflect on the disturbing nature of its title early on, A Lonely Place To Die eventually becomes an over-crowded place to perish with a few too many bullet-riddled bodies.
Running time: 99mins
UK Release Date: September 7, 2011