Starring: Melissa George, Alec Newman, Kate Magowan
Director: Julian Gilbey
Running Time: 99 mins
A Lonely Place To Die is a British film about a group of mountaineers in the Scottish highlands who come across a kidnapped young girl trapped in the woods, putting them in a race against time to get her to safety before her captors reach them.
Despite a promising concept, A Lonely Place To Die is a really disappointing watch throughout. Lacking urgency and a genuine sense of fear, it tells a story of surviving in an isolated environment without any particular terror or thrill factor, proving a frustratingly dull watch right to the finish.
It’s a real shame to say, because there are elements of this film that really promise a lot. Not only does it have the potential of an intense and frightening kidnap thriller, but also the intrigue of a survival drama in the wilderness. However, both of those genres require more than the somewhat superficial storytelling of this film.
Missing the mark right from the off, A Lonely Place To Die can’t even be called a slow-burn thriller, because it never actually ramps up the intensity at any point. The opening act – before they find the kidnapped girl – is slow, and the following portion as they try to evade the grasp of the captors is equally underwhelming.
The film tries to inject some urgency into proceedings with moments of life-threatening danger and even violence, but they come so far out of the blue that it’s more jarring than shocking to see.
What’s more, the peril of the wilderness seems to be the biggest threat to the characters, far more so than the poorly-developed villains of the film. Yet the movie tries to cement the kidnappers as the main terror in its screenplay, without ever spending the time to craft them as threatening adversaries – beyond a couple of unnecessary and again jarring violence.
But the biggest problem by a mile with A Lonely Place To Die is its lack of emotional depth. I say that it lacks urgency, and that’s in part down to the poor pacing, but above all it’s because the film doesn’t do anything to make you really fear for the characters.
A little bit more back story than just bickering in a relationship would have made an enormous difference, and then some moments of genuine reflection on the terror of being pursued with no help in sight could have lent that intensity and emotional urgency with ease.
The film to look at in order to see the effect of such emotional urgency is the brilliant Norwegian thriller U – July 22, which tells a similar story about fighting for survival but with bucket loads of terrifying and powerfully affecting emotion.
Overall, I was really disappointed by A Lonely Place To Die. Its concept is promising, but the execution is so poor, with far too much reliance on superficial tropes of its genre instead of really delving down into the emotional terror of its story. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0.