A Lonely Place To Die (2011)
(15) Running Time: 99 minutes
Director: Julian Gilbey
Writers: Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey
Starring: Melissa George, Ed Speelers, Eamonn Walker, Sean Harris, Alec Newman
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
This was one of those rare films where I went into it not knowing much more than the basics about the plot, and I had not read any reviews either so, thankfully, I went into this film almost blind at what was going to happen. To be perfectly honest, the plot is simple enough and wouldn’t have spoiled things if I had known more about it, but was unexpected was how good some of this film actually was. Director Julian Gilbey has created a sort of Deliverance crossed with Cliffhanger for todays generation of horror fans. A Lonely Place to Die is, essentially, a survival horror with a creepy kidnap story and some chilling bad guys thrown into the mix.
Melissa George superbly plays Alison, and we head straight into the film with no introductions, and meet Alison, Rob (Alex Newman) and Ed (Ed Speelers) climbing a massive mountain in the Scottish Highlands, Inverness and enjoying themselves until a lazy mistake causes one of them to have an accident. Suddenly, it’s apparent that Gilbey has some terrific skills as a director as he sets up a scene which is incredibly tense and nauseating as we pretty much experience what the climber’s experience. Suddenly, you will realise that this will not be your average gore fest horror, and we may actually find a lot of tense moments on offer here, and we get that! The three climbers’ eventually meet two more in a cabin, and get set for a big adventure the next day. We now get too properly, but briefly meet the team, and thankfully, they are all very likeable and believable. They head through the woods, they have some laughs nursing hangovers and discussing what’s in their sandwiches, and the Gilbey brothers show off a rather neat skill of gently adding comedy into their script which really works and, considering how tense this film often becomes, actually got some laughs from the audience, much needed comedy relief in parts.
In the woods they discover a strange sound which leads them into finding an air pipe in the ground, and once dug up, find a little girl buried in a box. She doesn’t speak English, but the group rescue her, split up so that expert climbers Alison and Rob can take a short cut to find help while the others make their way down the mountain the safest way. The girl was buried there for a reason, and we soon find out her kidnappers are not happy she has gone missing, but also seem to enjoy the hunt and are a master shot with a long range gun, bad news for our group of five and one little girl. What follows is a blistering, often quite shocking and very tense chase as the hunters attempt to reclaim their catch not worrying who dies in the process. The hunters are expertly played with grisly menace and are not very likeable at all, but the roles are perfect for the film. Some scenes will shock you in their brutality, like shooting someone already half dead at point blank range without even having the decency to look at the person, or another brutal scene where instead of using the final kill shot, the leader decides to “watch him die out” These are cruel men, and their first introduction as they meet two other hunters on the Highlands is guaranteed to send shivers up your spine.
The frantic pace of the film works wonders, with little time wasted for silly plot details or talk, it’s all run, hide and do whatever they can to survive. There are moments where the whole audience gasped as well, including a climbing scene which happens totally unexpected and so well filmed it will shock you to your core. George handles her character with incredible patience and realism, never looking out of her depth, and the whole film is tied together nicely by a relentless, thundering score which is haunting and yet exhilarating. The whole thing has a nasty, dark side to it and a scene in a village where what looks like a Pagan celebration is happening looks unsettling and adds a strange, ghostly sense to the final third of the film. The scenery is magnificent, with the entire thing filmed on location in Scotland and on the Highlands, including some filmed at Ben Nevis. If you want to discover Scotland but don’t have the time to actually get there, this film will show you how beautiful it really is. Take away the menacing hunt aspect, and enjoy the wonderful scenery and there is much to enjoy. Now, considering the film has got most things right so far, does it go wrong?
The quick answer is yes, things do go wrong, and sadly A Lonely Place to Die is not quite as good as it promised in the first half. The ending is a bit of a mess and it almost felt like the director’s didn’t quite know how to finish the film, some aspects of the plot become a bit silly, and sadly all the believability is lost during one scene involving a guy walking through the village streets wearing a creepy pig mask brandishing a shotgun surrounded by Pagan festival goers. Adding in a pig sound every time he appears on screen makes what could have been a chilling moment, laughable. George and some of her team seem to survive some rather nasty falls and manage to carry on where really they would not have been able to, and the little girl becomes incredibly irritating. Moral questions are asked as well, and sometimes you find it difficult to decide who is right and who is wrong in our ‘good guys’ group, and it would be nice if they could have just stuck together. At times it’s a little difficult to make out exactly what the cast are saying, nothing to do with accents, but more to do with their voices being muffled, and a scene in a Police station seems dragged out way past its welcome. Saying that though, A Lonely Place to Die is a solid, and at times nerve shattering chiller with some creepy moments, some truly shocking moments and the director and writer clearly know exactly what they are ding and are driven here to deliver a relentless assault on the senses. They have done a grand job, and on the basis of this film, I will be very interested to see what they come up with next.
[pt-filmtitle]A Lonely Place To Die[/pt-filmtitle]