A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

Four mountaineering friends discover a young foreign girl buried underground with only a breathing tube and a bottle of water for company. With little option but to take her down the mountain to civilization, the group splits up – one team scaling a severe drop to call the authorities, one team taking the “long” route with the girl.

This plan is ruined by the return of the kidnappers, who ruthlessly hunt down our rescuers, killing without discrimination. They MUST get the girl back and will do anything to obtain her, forcing the mountaineers into a dangerous game of cat & mouse that echoes from the top of the mountain all the way to the towns below…

If A Lonely Place to Die had stayed on the mountains it could’ve been a classic, but instead it peters out significantly towards the end, becoming ridiculous and messy. Our protagonists’ goal is to reach the safety of civilization and hand the girl over to the police, essentially rescuing her. The ending should’ve been when they reached this definitive goal, but instead it has a third act, and it borders on the absurd.

SPOILER ALERT!

The third act surprise isn’t a twist exactly, but merely a cavalcade of bizarre plotting choices. We are introduced to a group of entirely new characters, a really suspect policeman and then totally move locations to an Angels and Demons street festival in the middle of a small Scottish town, complete with fireworks, crazy dancing and fully-nude women covered head-to-toe in red paint! It is so unexpected it ends up feeling like a ham-fisted metaphor and a lame device to mask the baddies’ gunshots. At this point the film spirals wildly into the realms of the ridiculous and you simply fail to care, especially after innocent bystanders get mercilessly gunned down in the crossfire. Some may see this as a brave choice, but it feels unnecessary and awkward – a truly disappointing ending.

SPOILER ENDS!

Writer / director duo Julian and Will Gilbey have done some impressive work off the back of two British gangster flicks (Rollin’ With the Nines and Rise of the Footsoldier), with some immaculate action sequences and sharp dialogue, but despite all the sweeping vistas and teeth-biting climbing sections, the Gilbey’s love of their previous work seeps through the third act with gangsters, guns, breasts, untrustworthy coppers and blasts of violence. It makes for a surprising combination, but it’s just not flagged well enough at the beginning to truly work – instead it sits awkwardly at the finale of an otherwise very decent film.

Sometimes a shonky-plotted film can still survive thanks to some superb characters, but sadly this isn’t the case here. The characters in A Lonely Place to Die are certainly a likeable bunch, but generically so, with the only stand-out performances coming from kidnappers Stephen McCole and Sean Harris, who both ooze a different kind of menace, one loud and one quiet and creeping. Karel Roden also excels in a small role and his café confrontation with Harris is the best scene of the film.

A Lonely Place to Die is an enjoyable mess. This could have been Deliverance meets Cliffhanger via Taken, but instead it’s a muddled horror / thriller that starts phenomenally and slowly deteriorates. A Lonely Place to Die is thrilling, beautiful, violent, savage and thought-provoking, but irrevocably flawed.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

One Comment on “A Lonely Place to Die”

  1. Rachel says:

    What the heck is that festival thing all about ?!?! that does not exist in scotland at all ! i think i would know ! x

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