Judicious cinematography of the Scottish Highlands establishes the forbidding setting into which survival thriller A Lonely Place To Die places the audience. The fact that we are rather abruptly transported out of that setting towards the film’s close is only to say that, perhaps, remaining in the mountains might have been the better plan after all.
The outdoor survival / horror sub-genre has frequently aired itself in the past few years with The Descent and Eden Lake two primary examples. Maybe even last year’s Centurion (also set in the Scottish Highlands) if you want to stretch the semblance historically. And with the Cillian Murphy led The Retreat and Cross Country starring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint both to come later this year, it seems exploring why bad things happen to good people out there in the wilderness is as in vogue as its ever going to be.
Here though, our five mountaineers of various climbing experience hitch up and down rocks of vertiginous delight. That is, before happening upon a kidnapped child. Naturally there’s confusion and barely contained mutiny in the ranks. Cue sabotage in the mountains. This is the film’s most satisfying section as we play a game of cat and mouse between the kidnappers and our five characters – led by the resourceful Alison (Melissa George) and obnoxious Ed (Ed Speelers – good).
Some timely occurrences propel the plot along – mobile phones – aren’t they simply killing the plausibility of lots of contemporary flicks now?? And the element of suspense and surprise essentially wilts when the action shifts to a nearby town, turning the film into something more predicable.
So simply put, after such a taught opening it is more than a little underwhelming when the action descends into a messy conventional hostage shoot-em-up. Unfolding along less familiar lines would have elevated this into something more distinct. But hikers will like this movie. As will the casual moviegoer in search of some decent British indie. Worth a look.