A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller
Alec Newman, Ed Speleers, Melissa George, Kate Magowan
A group of mountaineers in the Scottish Highlands discover a kidnapped girl and are pursued by her captors.
  • 07 Sep 2011 Released:
  • N/A DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey Writer:
  • Julian Gilbey Director:
  • N/A Website:

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A wonderfully disconcerting experience, earning itself a place amongst the other hidden gems of the British horror market.8/10
With British horror now returning to the peak it previously reached so many years ago at the height of the Hammer Horror fame, it's slowly but surely become one of the freshest genres around. With such original titles as 'Severance', 'Eden Lake' and most notably 'The Descent' gracing our screens with their deeply chilling presence as of late, all eyes have been transfixed on Film4's Frightfest, Britain's leading horror-based film festival, for the latest slice of truly horrifying cinema. As this year's closing night film, 'A Lonely Place to Die' found itself walking in the footsteps of some true hidden gems, but could it live up to expectations?

As the brainchild of previously uncelebrated brothers Julian and Will Gilbey, 'A Lonely Place to Die' will most likely not register on many people's radars. The untraditional location and lack of star power will mean many shall overlook it's existence, but hidden behind the shoestring budget, the relatively unknown cast and the oddly basic sounding plot lies a deeply disturbing and involving thriller with little use of exhausted cliches and an unbelievably unpredictable narrative.

Despite a rather breezy but nail-biting opening, the Gilbey brothers hold off on the majority of the shocks until at least half-way in, allowing the basic emotional structure and tone of the picture to fully take hold first. A rather basic introduction is rather quickly washed over, the dialogue clunky but acceptable and the mood settling nicely. However, when the script does begin to take off and lives are lost in the blink of an eye, the film truly kicks it into overdrive. What the Gilbeys to do so well is to capture the shock of loss. The sickeningly fast pace of death and how quickly it can creep up on you. It is here where they truly reach their winning stride, a solid 30 minutes of the movie bang in the middle providing incredibly alarming and startling fresh thrills literally appearing as if out of no where. One second the mood is calm then a second later, another life lost. Doubtlessly marvellous.

Veteran-horror-chick Melissa George leads the pack of otherwise unnoticeable climbers, assassins and lost little girls, her performance both solid and believable but never once bordering on the outstanding. Her fellow cast members too tow the line ably but none particularly shine, their characters becoming nothing more than nicknames, but likable nicknames at that. It is more the presence of certain characters than the characters themselves that begin to command the scares, one powerfully-stomached assassin becoming almost an unstoppable force and a true sense of fear within the viewer's mind.

Following the rather intense and erratically unforeseeable events of the second act, the plot begins to flesh itself out a tad, unfortunately losing much of the suspense and fear that so dominated the previous section. Much more of the Gilbeys' obvious dialogue and sudden character appearances are thrown in in an attempt to fuel some rather strange and disconcerting explanations, forcing the thumping pace back down to a general saunter, sadly wrecking the previously unpredictable tone.

When the finale does eventually come however, it thankfully manages to mimic the truly demented tone of the second act at least partially, creating a nail-biting yet slightly foreseeable conclusion. Although it might not be the painfully dark and sinister climax many may hope for, it's certainly a fitting end to a surprisingly thrilling and incredibly shocking piece of British cinema.

Although filled with pointless landscaping shots (which remain beautiful for all of a minute) and shamefully poor dialogue, 'A Lonely Place to Die' succeeds in creating an astoundingly rickety and worrying tone in which no character's safety is guaranteed, leaving you both unsettled and gasping for more. It's far from perfect, but exists as a wonderfully disconcerting experience, earning itself a place amongst the other hidden gems of the British horror market; 'A Lonely Place to Die' demands and deserves your attention.
Tense, fast-paced thriller9/10
I was lucky enough to be present at the world premiere of this film at Actionfest and listened in on a short Q&A with the director. Opening with some incredible, and real, footage of people climbing sheer rock faces, "A Lonely Place to Die" never lets up until the final credits roll. Unafraid to take the film in unexpected directions, director Gilbey had the audience gasping in surprise at multiple moments and I noticed a man in front of me leaning further and further forward as the story progressed. A great cast handled the nuanced script with real skill. The characters are presented with many layers and it's clear that they all have pasts and various human weaknesses but the film doesn't take the time to explain things out clearly. It is up to the audience to infer ( if they are interested ) in what might have happened in their pasts. This is genius scripting in what is essentially a simple action movie. There is depth if you care to look for it, otherwise just hold on to your seat and be prepared for some serious excitement. I can't wait for this to hit wide release and see what sort of reaction the rest of the world has towards this top-notch thriller.
A good effort but a bit disappointing5/10
This movie started off well with an interesting idea, but somehow ran out of steam, or commitment, about half way through.

Melissa George and her friends go climbing in Scotland and stumble across a secret buried in the woods. They try and go for help but discover that they're not alone. The movie starts off as slow burning and intriguing, with plenty of sweeping shots of the rugged Scottish landscape, it then changes abruptly about half way through, losing all of its subtlety and becomes a standard chase movie with guns. It's almost as if the director lost their nerve and decided to go for blood and glory just in case the audience gets a little bored. Some scenes seem to be thrown in just so someone else can be killed, and the body count by the end of the movie is a bit on the high side.

The acting is fine, and I don't have any huge issues with the script, it's just it could of been a nice little thriller rather than half a good movie, and half a predictable one.
Great buildup to a disappointing finale.5/10
Basically the anti-Kill List, instead of slowly building to an incredible conclusion this one starts off with the intensity at ten and then peaks way too soon, leading to a disappointing final act. That doesn't take away from the power of the first hour though. The premise is horror simplicity; a group of friends go up to the mountains to do some climbing and stumble across something they weren't supposed to.

The first hour leads them down this dangerous road of bullets and blood that honestly had me straining to catch my breathe. A lot of, "Holy crap!" moments almost from the start and the insanity just builds as more characters are introduced and the intensity is matched by the pure mystery of just what in the hell is going on in these mountains.

Of course like most cases of such a promising start, as we get more answers to who these people are and what their motivation is things become significantly more mundane and lead to a final act that just equates to waiting for what you know is going to happen to happen. It's really disappointing because that middle act has got to be some of the most intense stuff I've seen all year and I'd say it's worth watching for that alone, even if it doesn't pay off on it's promise.
Great Outdoors Let Down By Nonsense3/10
Being Scottish I was keen to see our great landscapes on the big screen and went in not knowing much about this film. It started really well looking like a superb survival in the mountains flick, the mountains and scenery where amazing, cast was all right but then the film changed direction for the worse.

I don't tend to give spoilers on any reviews but this verged on the ridiculous, first of all how did the villains manage to stumble upon two guys with rifles in middle of nowhere?, how many shots do they need to kill someone?, how did the little girl survive after being underwater for an eternity?. These are just some of the holes in this film that just don't get answered or would never happen.

And the festival in the street, I'm Scottish and I have never seen a street festival in any town where there is breasts out while kids watch. Script writer must have been watching Wicker man too much.

This should have been something special but lacked the nerve in the second half of film. A poor man's Deliverance.