Title: A Lonely Place to Die
Director: Julian Gilbey
Starring: Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Eamonn Walker, Sean Harris, Alec Newman, Karel Roden, Kate Magowan, Holly Boyd, Gary Sweeney
A Lonely Place to Die will have you pondering one of two things: Should you do the humanely thing and help someone that is in a precarious situation that you may not fully understand? Or should I just stay the hell out of it!
When the 99 minutes conclude on this survival thriller, you’ll have enough data to justify any answer.
A group of five friends are scaling mountains in remote areas of Scotland when they come across a little girl (Holly Boyd making her acting debut) in an ominous predicament. Alison (Melissa George), Ed (Ed Speleers), Rob (Alec Newman), and Jenny (Kate Magowan) all begin to assist the girl who is rattling off some Eastern-European dialect, which none of them can understand. The fifth member of this crew, Alex (Garry Sweeney), selfishly feels they should just avoid this situation all together despite how desperate and helpless the little one appears. And his cowardly instincts were right; for two random men armed with high-powered sniper rifles are now chasing them through the Highlands where the nearest town is over 20 miles away.
For the first half of this flick, this is pretty much what the entire plot is all about. We never learn why these two persistent guys are after the young girl, but subtle hints do start to drop in. And eventually another party enters in the story line that slowly puts the pieces together. Either way, the girl was obviously not supposed to be found and the noble friends must find a way to navigate through treacherous mountains and endless woods in order to get her, and themselves, to safety before a sniper bullet pierces their bodies.
The delivery is what is going to make or break this movie for the viewer. At first, the tone is reminiscent of a survival horror piece, where the antagonist will be the sheer landscape that the group will have to navigate through; which is featured in the first act and provides some excellent cinematography of the land via the character’s first person perspective. When the young girl is discovered, the tone slowly switches to suspense, but as mentioned, the rationale of what’s going on is never fully explained. So whether the suspense is realized is dependent upon what your expectations are. As the third act takes shape and the reasoning behind all the plot points intersect, the changing atmosphere – which takes place in a small town during a Halloween type carnival – goes full-blown horror movie. And while the physical chase components are interesting, the creativeness is almost too fundamental.
You’re going to have that feeling that you walked into a movie and/or story about halfway through at certain points. Even though everything gets ironed out, unless you have that thought in your head of, “What would I do in this situation,” chances are this could leave you feeling numb. All that being said, by limiting the dialogue – as they did here – the screenplay becomes more thrilling, despite the lack of a substantial story from the onset.
Since there are a bunch of different dialects being spoken, some of the dialogue is going to be missed due to the accents; and when in conjunction with the whole, “picking up the story halfway through approach,” the urge to tune out can begin to weigh in. When this occurs, it’s up to the performers to pick up the slack. Funny thing is, you never gain an emotional attachment to any of them. Not even the little girl. The hook of this story is simply “what the hell is going on here?” After that is learned, the horror element is the only aspect that can keep one vested in this as the two antagonists constantly snipe at the ones fortunate enough to get away through the woods, rivers and towns they try to hide in. And to secure the horror aesthetic, there is a solid, and graphic, body count. A nice touch would have been to focus more on the mountain climbing techniques as a way of escape instead of executing sequences that have been used countless times in similar flicks. Plus, just have this movie go silent with regards to the dialogue.
Overall, A Lonely Place to Die is quiet survival tale using little flash yet tries to encompass a bit of all the suspenseful/horror genre traits. The levels are steady, and when factoring in the way the cinematography is executed throughout the multi-environments, can make the physical journey rewarding to take in. Basically, this is a modest thriller posing as a realistic account. Sometimes it clicks, other times its just there taking up space.
By Joe Belcastro