FANTASTIC FEST 2011
By Don Simpson | September 29, 2011
Director: Julian Gilbey
Writer: Julian Gilbey, Will Gilbey
Starring: Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Eamonn Walker, Sean Harris, Alec Newman, Karel Roden, Kate Magowan, Garry Sweeney, Stephen McCole, Paul Anderson, Holly Boyd
A Lonely Place To Die‘s cinematography (Ali Asad) is awe-inspiring; the opening sequence of events alone could not be any more cinematically mind-blowing. With the assistance of little to no special effects, Alison (Melissa George), Ed (Ed Speleers) and Rob (Alec Newman) navigate their way up a vertically treacherous section of the Scottish Highlands. At the top of their climb is a secluded cabin, where a married couple — Jenny (Kate Magowan) and Alex (Garry Sweeney) — await their arrival.
When the next day’s climbing adventure is canceled due to high winds, the fivesome opt for a brisk hike across the countryside to what promises to be an easy climb. They find small Croatian girl named Anna (Holly Boyd) and the majority opinion is that they should do the right thing and usher Anna to the nearest town. Unfortunately for everyone, that is easier said than done. This one simple decision almost immediately reveals itself to be a very bad one as they are catapulted into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
By the final act, the cinematography turns from the unforgiving landscape of the Highlands to a uniquely urban one — a densely populated Scottish village during their Beltane Fire Festival. The juxtaposition of the unpopulated open spaces of the mountains with the crowded cobbled streets of the village is jarring, as if we are ripped from one film and crammed against our will into another.
A relentless action film that does not hesitate to find harsh — and occasionally, lonely — ways to kill its protagonists, A Lonely Place To Die‘s biggest handicap is its unbridled preposterousness that often prompts giggles rather than tension or fear. Whereas the narrative might have benefited from a more subtle and realistic approach, writer-director Julian Gilbey cranks everything up to 11 — including the thundering score (Michael Richard Plowman) — to distractingly boisterous proportions.
I will say, however, that Melissa George’s portrayal of Alison is remarkably positive and empowering; in fact, the character of Alison is a rare and unforgettable feminist icon of the action film genre.