A Lonely Place to Die
dir Julian Gilbey
prd Michael Loveday
scr Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey
with Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Kate Magowan, Alec Newman, Garry Sweeney, Holly Boyd, Sean Harris, Karel Roden, Eamonn Walker, Stephen McCole, Paul Anderson, Eric Barlow
release UK 7.Sep.11, US 11.Nov.11
11/UK 1h38
A Lonely Place to Die
Hanging by a thread: George

george speleers harris
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
A Lonely Place to Die Stunning locations in the Scottish Highlands add a professional sheen to this intense, rather nasty thriller. And a focussed, personal approach makes it thoroughly involving, charging up both the suspense and emotions.

Five friends are hiking in the wilderness when they discover a young girl, Anna (Boyd), buried in a box. The most adept climbers (George and Newman) go for help following a shortcut that involves a dangerous descent, while the others (Speleers, Magowan and Sweeney) take Anna on a safer route. But they're being chased by a pair of merciless killers (Harris and McCole) who need to get Anna back so they can collect ransom money from a shady Eastern European (Roden). And as things turn very violent, everyone gets increasingly desperate to survive.

After a couple of flawed urban thrillers (Rollin With the Nines and Rise of the Footsoldier), director-cowriter Julian Gilbey finally lives up to his promise, connecting his sharp visual skills with characters who resonate strongly. Even as things turns hideously grisly, we remain interested in each person on screen, from the heroic climbers trying to save this young girl's life to the ruthless villains who are chasing them.

The cast members make each of these people thoroughly fascinating. The five hikers are likeable and seriously tenacious, and the actors cleverly underplay the dynamics of their rather convoluted interrelationships to add interest without melodrama. And Roden is equally focussed in his task, accompanied by two high-tech mercenaries (Walker and Anderson) who add a bit of intrigue. Meanwhile, Harris manages to give his vicious villain some gentle shades of desperation as well.

Gilbey and cinematographer Ali Asad shoot this with spectacular wide screen camerawork, which gorgeously shows off both the staggering physical beauty and the gritty action. This makes what's essentially a British B-movie look much better than most Hollywood blockbusters. And even with the brutal carnage of the finale (which takes place during a gratuitous, lurid pagan parade), the film proves that sometimes the most engaging films are the ones with the simplest plots. This is a lean, mean movie that does exactly what it sets out to do. And does it perfectly.

cert 18 themes, language, strong violence 23.Jun.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall