"“If you suffer from vertigo - it might just be worth giving this one a miss…”"
It is somewhat of a rarity to see a thriller based in the wilderness of the Scottish highlands, but where A Lonely Place to Die excels in its initial incongruity, it lacks in its finished product.
The film, written and directed by Julian and Will Gilbey, tells the story of a group of mountaineers, who stumble across a young Serbian girl called Anna (Holly Boyd), seemingly the victim of a kidnapping plot. When the eager climbers seek to provide refuge and facilitate the young girl, the kidnappers aren’t happy about it – as they proceed to try and catch the innocent climbers, hunting them down as if they are wild creatures.
It’s an interesting plot, and its setting provides the film with a tense ambience, as it takes place in the vast wilderness, providing the feature with a forlorn and isolated mood, making it quite chilling, as you fear for the characters, being so far away from help and familiarity.
However, despite the primary concept being strong, the film just doesn’t have the edge that is required in successful thrillers. It is enjoyable, and there are some real edge-of-your-seat moments, but ultimately is fails to encapsulate any emotional aspect to what is a disconcerting and distressing storyline, about the kidnapping of a young girl, ostensibly a fault of the precarious script.
Its problem, as is the case with the majority of films within the horror/thriller genre, is the lack of any rapport between the viewer and the characters. There is just no emotional investment made into any of the leading roles, therefore making it difficult to genuinely care about them, and what becomes of them. They are being hunted by psychopaths with guns, and fearing for their lives, and yet I didn’t feel any affiliation with them, or empathy, which damaged the story to some extent, as I didn’t care if they survived or not.
This was especially the case with lead role Alison, played by Melissa George. Despite her quite dodgy accent, her performance was very strong, as she portrayed a vulnerability to her that made her even more isolated and lonely amidst the immensity of the Scottish Highlands, but, and this is no fault of her own, the character of Alison had very little depth to her.
We didn’t really find anything out about her background or life, and as a result, there was just no personal attachment to her, which is unacceptable really when wanting to truly become involved with a film. As well as George, the other performance which stood out for me was that of Sean Harris, playing the kidnapper Mr Kidd. His performance was a diamond in the rough as far as this feature was concerned, almost unfairly making it seem like he was overacting.
I also felt the film progressed too quickly, in regards to its leading storyline. When the characters found Anna in a box under the ground, we were unaware of who, or what, had put her there. Following this the characters were clearly being stalked, but we still weren’t aware of who was on their tail. This was the scariest point to the film, as what we don’t know is far scarier than what we do. Therefore, it was a bit of a disappointment when we discover, so early on, who the antagonists are and what they are after. It was also a frustration when we discovered at this point that Anna was in fact just an innocent victim, as until that point she was an eerie and mystifying little girl, who, as all young girls are in horror films, the scariest of subjects - even when they are on the good side.
A Lonely Place to Die has got its positives as well – mainly that of the setting and picturesque landscapes prominent throughout. Its scenic imagery of the Scottish Highlands was striking, which often made up for the meagre script, as we could at least focus our attention on the back-drop.
However, what prevails is ultimately a forgettable feature film. It’s got some good performances in it and certainly looks the part, but the story and script are lacklustre. Also, if you suffer from vertigo - it might just be worth giving this one a miss.