The ever versatile beauty Melissa George proves herself as a tough and resilient leading woman in the British thriller A Lonely Place to Die. With relentless action and breathtaking natural photography of the formidable mountains and wilderness of remote Scotland, director Julian Gibley gives us a pursuit to-the-end genre piece, that plays it as cold and calculating as possible. Additionally there is a fine supporting role by Sean Harris as one psychopathic hunter who adds as much terror and danger as the craggy, jagged and deathly cliff faces who feature as the sinister antagonists in this gripping film.
I like a director that let’s you know exactly what it’s all about from the opening shots. Gibley’s establishing piece is inspirational, beautiful and terrifying in equal measure. Set on a towering vertical mountain, the misty cold air adds a crisp sharp look to the ominous cliffs. Three climbers are mid-face with one setting the pace, a fool hardy act causes one to lose his footing falling into peril. Camera cuts between shots as quickly as the action takes place adding the necessary tension. Suspended by his life-line knotted around his foot, he hangs head first in sheer terror. Not only is this expertly captured, inducing a near state of vertigo, but it brilliantly establishes the characters. George the lead, becomes forthright and determined but above all keeps her cool; she becomes in effect a life saver.
The events that follow will push this idea to the limit. The expedition, consisting of five members, make a grim and ultimately life threatening discovery for which they all must be in absolute agreement should they wish to survive. Gibley, cunningly takes the opportunity to introduce our antagonists, two merciless high powered metal rifles, effectively displaying the cold blooded nature and intent of their handlers. From here the action becomes highly charged, our defenseless creatures scramble like dumb deer as one by one they’re picked off with ease. The violence for all its graphic brutality is all beautifully captured, without exaggeration. The kills; clean. It also serves to reinforce the heightened sense of purpose in our protagonist. Not to mention our tension. We may be on the edge of our seats but Melissa George really outdoes herself, running, climbing, scaling, diving into freezing waters, she pulls the punches and gets to the final scene with the determination and fiery resolution that was also in another great herione, Ripley, when she too confronted her demons.
To really drive these character to the limits, Gibley had to come up with something very menacing and I do like what he did with these dark forces. The cold-blooded one-dimensional nature of the villains worked effectively, however they were introduced too late in the piece to really take hold. Nonetheless, Sean Harris is brilliant. Of all the characters though, none was more constant, confronting and spectacular than the remoteness of Scotland. Cinematographer Ali Asad, captured it superbly and credit to Gibley for making spectacular use of its danger and sanctuary.
A Lonely Place to Die is in cinemas 7th September 2011
Director: Julian Gilbey
Stars: Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Eamonn Walker
Runtime: 99 min