[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005LGPRYW][/pullquote] Drawing its influences from classic British thrillers like The Wicker Man, Get Carter and Don’t Look Now, A Lonely Place to Die is a bleak and unusual film. Starting out with the simple premise of the dangers of rock-climbing, it quickly becomes a hostage thriller, a chase film and finally a horror. It has an incredible ability to shock both visibly on-screen and mentally with it’s subversion of genre stereotypes.
Five hikers, including the rough and tough Alison (Melissa George), discover a young Serbian girl buried alive in the wilderness of the Scottish highlands. As they try to get her to safety, they realise that whoever buried her is out to get them and a thrilling race to outrun their pursuers begins.
The bleak, Scottish landscape becomes the perfect setting for the twists and turns A Lonely Place to Die takes. One early scene when the two main characters are trying to descend a 500ft cliff-face will leave you shocked and gasping for air. There are moments of quiet beauty, just before gun-shots ring out and the party are on the run from two of the film’s villains, Mr. Kidd (Sean Harris) and Mr. McRae (Stephen McCole). These two seemingly glorified Bond villains surprise with their depth. Kidd is full of a quiet rage, while McRae is the unstoppable Terminator-type, with nothing slowing him in his pursuit of the girl.
Despite the stellar performance of the two main villains, there is a touch of schizophrenia to the five hikers and various key moments in A Lonely Place to Die. There is a very natural approach at first, with conversations including stutters and pauses for breath. But when there’s something important to be said the acting becomes stilted and the dialogue over-pronounced. Melissa George, generally disappointing in the lead role, is particularly guilty of over-acting. It’s a shame they couldn’t keep the almost documentary feel of the first third, but the unexpected twists change the film so much that perhaps it wouldn’t have worked anyway.
Thrilling chills and spills root hit-and-miss A Lonely Place to Die firmly as an homage to the classics of the 1970s (even with a bizarre festival at the end, just like The Wicker Man). Some great performances and some sub-standard ones highlight what is right and very wrong about the film.