|FrightFest Review: A Lonely Place to Die|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 29 August 2011 13:52|
Director: Julian Gilbey
There's nothing like hanging upside down off a cliff to ruin your weekend. And that's exactly how A Lonely Place to Die opens, throwing its cast off the side of a mountain in the Scottish Highlands with nothing but a rope and a handheld camera to save them. (Guess which one gets smashed into tiny pieces.)
It's a superb vertiginous flourish at the start of a taut thriller that warns us of two things: 1. Julian Gilbey knows how to make your tummy go wobbles, and 2. Mountains are bad.
Not that you need to be told that if you've seen any other rock-climbing films. Cliffhanger, Vertical Limit, 127 Hours - clambering around on mountains is just asking for trouble. Especially in Scotland. And even more so when you come across a hole in the ground with a little girl buried inside.
Her name's Anna (Boyd), and she's been stored there for safekeeping by a couple of gun-toting kidnappers. And so Gilbey's climbers, led by the heroic Alison (George) and obnoxious Ed (Speleers), sprint through the mountains trying to save little Anna while nasty men take pot shots at them with rifles. It's a simple set up, and one that soon runs out of places to go, but it's a tense rush that knows how to pace itself.
The location helps a lot, as deserted cliff-tops and crowded forests allow for a variety of set pieces - one tense sequence sees Alison scaling down a 300m drop without a rope. Balancing the kinetic camerawork with steady editing, the dizzying stunts offer an immediate edge in the face of other CGI-heavy horror flicks, while Boyd's terrified young girl gives things an emotional anchor.
It's just a shame that the adult cast don't quite follow suit. George and Speleers stand out, as does the villainous Sean Harris, but some aren't developed beyond basic bullet-fodder - and at times, it's hard to believe that they dodge said bullets for so long.
An explosive, macabre climax in a nearby village keeps things suspenseful, and Gilbey pulls off some excellent narrative feints, but it doesn't quite hang together enough to make for a spelunking classic like The Descent. Not that you'll have time to think about that - you'll be too busy running to keep up with the action. The assured direction and breakneck pacing make A Lonely Place to Die an exciting place to sit for 98 mins.
Ignore the rocky script and A Lonely Place to Die is a cracking bit of boulderdash.
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