Frightfest, whether it is in London or the Glasgow Film Festival, is often seen as an endurance test. Gore-hungry film fans trying to make it through a couple of days of back-to-back horror movies. Hanging on for dear life, knowing that one false move or a quick rest of the eyes and it is all over. Similar then to the protagonist in the horror thriller The Ledge.
A rock climbing adventure between two friends turns into a terrifying nightmare. After Kelly captures the murder of her best friend on camera, she becomes the next target of a tight-knit group of friends who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence and anyone in their way. Desperate for her safety, she begins a treacherous climb up a mountain cliff and her survival instincts are put to the test when she becomes trapped with the killers just 20 feet away.
The film wastes no time in setting up the central narrative. Barely 15 minutes pass before Kelly is scaling the face of the mountain to escape her attackers.
While it might lack the vertigo-inducing cinematography of Free Solo or Cliffhanger, through clever use of angles and editing, Howard J. Ford distills a high amount of tension into the scenes where she is free solo climbing the rock face.
Not only is Kelly battling her aggressors but she also has to battle the elements, her terrain and her inner demons, haunted by a painful memory that has led her back to this particular mountain. Can she overcome all the odds?
Brittany Ashworth imbues Kelly with intelligence, tenacity and resourcefulness. A determination to survive at all costs. It makes her easy to root for as a protagonist.
What also helps is when she is fighting against one of the most loathsome antagonists you will see on screen this year. Ben Lamb should be commended for his performance. Joshua is a twisted and violent misognist, his actions are utterly reprehensible and he is the type of villain that has audiences praying that he will suffer a painful, agonising demise. He might be the ringleader of the group of friends but “friends” might be too strong a word. It is clear that the rest of them only continue to hang out with him due to some misguided sense of loyalty from the past. His actions put Joshua increasingly at odds with them as well as Kelly which adds an extra dimension to the conflict.
Where the film falls down is when it reaches the eponymous ledge. Once both parties arrive, narratively speaking there is nowhere left to go. The interactions between them becoming repetitive and lacking invention or imagination. Resulting in an unsatisfying final ascent to its conclusion.
This thriller should have you on the ledge of your seat, however the end result is not really worth the climb.
Signature Entertainment presents The Ledge on Digital Platforms 14th March and DVD 21st March
Director: Howard J. Ford
Stars: Brittany Ashworth, Ben Lamb, Nathan Welsh
Runtime: 86 minutes