Considering that the previous film from director Julian Gilbey was Rise Of The Footsoldier, I’d understand if a lot of people were as hesitant as I was about going in to view A Lonely Place To Die. I’m not saying that Rise Of The Footsoldier was a terrible film but it was a particular kind of movie and not one I really enjoyed. I didn’t know anything about A Lonely Place To Die when I popped the disc in the player and started watching the film. And, as the end credits rolled, I realised that I’d been very fortunate.
But, as sometimes occurs, this puts me in an awkward position when it comes to review writing time. How do I recommend the movie to others and promote some of the better aspects without giving too much away? Well, as ever, I’ll try my best. The main incident that kicks everything off is the discovery of a young girl buried alive in a box, with a breathing tube attached, that really does seem to be in the middle of nowhere. In fact, the five mountaineers who make this strange discovery quickly realise that the harsh and isolated environment around them is no longer an enjoyable and exciting challenge to their skills but a perilous and unforgiving obstacle to be navigated on the way to finding help of any kind.
The presence of Melissa George should be the first clue to viewers that something dark and twisted may be about to unfold (the lovely Miss George has appeared in a number of decent thrillers and horrors and become quite a fan favourite) while the appearance of the intense Sean Harris should confirm things. A Lonely Place To Die is a strange beast indeed, but it’s also an admirable one and quite a unique and interesting thriller. The rest of the cast are all pretty good, including the excellent Stephen McCole (who I previously really liked in Crying With Laughter), Eamonn Walker and Karel Roden.
What I can say, without fear of spoiling anything, is just how good a lot of the shots and cinematography are when it comes to showing off the landscape and a number of the climbing scenes in the first half of the movie. The mix of such vertiginous camerawork and building unease makes this a movie similiar, but superior, to the flawed High Lane AKA Vertige. The twists and turns taken are genuinely impressive and the movie becomes all the more interesting as more and more time is spent in such beautiful and inhospitable surroundings, an aspect of the film surely intentionally built upon by Gilbey.
The script is okay, it gets the job done for the most part and allows for one or two decent character moments (though Harris, Walker and Roden get better dialogue than anyone else), but this is all about the vision of the locale and the forward momentum of all those involved once events are set in motion.
At the end of the day, A Lonely Place To Die isn’t completely satisfying as a movie experience but it is unique and interesting enough to warrant at least one viewing and steps things up a notch in the second half to become something almost great. It stumbles throughout, but certainly scatters enough impressive moments throughout to make it stick in your mind.
A Lonely Place To Die is released on shiny disc on 26th December and comes loaded with some enjoyable goodies. The audio commentary consists of far too many comments about how great and nice everything and everyone is but this is more than compensated for a superb 70-minute “making of” featurette that keeps the focus for the majority of the runtime on the environment that features so prominently in the movie. A 17-minute featurette entitled “The Challenge Of The Alps” is another super little bonus, and will certainly appeal to fans of rock climbing. Avoid the spoiler-heavy trailer until after you’ve seen the film.
DIRECTOR: JULIAN GILBEY
WRITER: JULIAN GILBEY, WILL GILBEY
STARS: MELISSA GEORGE, ED SPELEERS, EAMONN WALKER, KAREL RODEN, SEAN HARRIS, STEPHEN MCCOLE
RUNTIME: 99 MINS APPROX