out of Five
Running time: 99
Pacily directed, entertaining thriller with striking location work and strong performances from Melissa George and Sean Harris, though it's slightly let down by an underwritten script and a loss of focus in the final act.
What's it all about?
Co-written and directed by Julian Gilbey, A Lonely Place to Die stars Melissa George as Alison, a mountaineer on holiday in the remote Scottish Highlands with a group of friends including feckless Ed (Ed Speleers), team leader Rob (Alec Newman) and feisty Jenny (Kate Magowan). When they hear strange noises in the middle of nowhere, the group investigate and are horrified to discover a young Serbian girl (Holly Boyd) buried underground with just an air pipe to keep her alive.
Thinking fast, the group attempt to get the girl to safety, but they've reckoned without a pair of vicious kidnappers (Sean Harris and Stephen McCole) who will stop at nothing to recover their victim. Meanwhile a pair of mysterious strangers (Karel Roden and Eamonn Walker) are also intent on finding the girl.
Melissa George is in the process of carving herself an intriguing second-wave career as a horror heroine (okay, scream queen) and she's on top form here, displaying appealing physicality and a dogged determination to survive. There's also strong support from Ed Speleers (who pulls off a decent transition from obnoxious idiot to sympathetic would-be hero) and a pair of convincingly chilling turns from Sean Harris and Stephen McCole, who turn out to be crack-shot snipers as well as ruthless kidnappers.
Julian Gilbey maintains a decent pace throughout the first half of the film by constantly keeping his characters on the move; he also orchestrates some superbly tense sequences, particularly anything involving actual mountaineering. On top of that, the film is beautifully shot, courtesy of cinematographer Ali Asad, who gets strong use out of a number of striking locations.
The main problem is that most of the characters are badly underwritten, so you don't really care whether any of Alison's friends make it to the final reel or not. In addition, the script loses focus in the final act when Walker and Roden's characters make an appearance and the film inexplicably asks you to care as much about Harris's character as you do about George's; as a result, the finale feels rather flat when it should have been cranked up to fever pitch.
A Lonely Place to Die is an entertaining, pacey thriller, enlivened by a strong performance from Melissa George, though it peters out slightly in the final act and the climax is disappointing.
A Lonely Place to Die (15)