A Lonely Place to Die

Highland Anxiety

by Glenn Lovell

The place of the title is lonely indeed, lonely and quite spectacular. It’s a weekend mountaineer’s paradise: the Scottish Highlands, 80 miles southwest of Inverness, as the eagle flies.

It’s here, in a forest clearing, that five climbers ‒ Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Alec Newman,  Kate Magowan and Garry Sweeney ‒ happen upon what sounds like a cry for help and make the humane but fatal decision to dig, dig, dig!

The voice is that of a child (Holly Boyd). She’s been buried in a cork box with ventilation pipe by a couple of psycho kidnappers, played to the hilt by Stephen McCole and Sean Harris, who was so memorable as the skeevy pot grower in “Harry Brown.” The kidnappers want a sizable ransom from the girl’s father, who, unbeknown to them, is a Serbian war criminal who once specialized in ethnic cleansing.

Only the kidnappers no longer have the girl. Our intrepid climbers do. Rotten luck, what?

The UK-financed “Lonely Place” ‒ directed by Julian Gilbey, who co-scripted and edited with brother Will ‒ is a small find. Though a bit confusing early on, as we’re sorting among three groups of baddies, it soon settles down and unspools as a punishing three-way chase, with the kidnappers pursuing the climbers and the father’s hired guns (led by Eamonn Walker of “Oz”) pursuing the kidnappers. There are twists and turns aplenty, plus some all-too-realistic falls from high places. George, cast as an American, turns out to be the best climber as well as the hero of the piece. But she does take her lumps in the sprint to the Big Shootout, played against, of all things, a bacchanalian May Day parade.

Check this one out on PPV this month. Plucking ideas from “Deliverance,” “Eden Lake,” “The Most Dangerous Game” and half a dozen North Face nail-biters ‒ there’s even a sacrificial death modeled on Willem Dafoe’s kneeling martyrdom in “Platoon” ‒ the Gilbeys have fashioned one of the year’s more unnerving thrillers. Also, full points for the macabre humor. To blend in with the “Wicker Man” street festival, one of the killers dons a large boar’s mask. Alas, he doesn’t get into the spirit of things when embraced by a reveler. He blows the poor chap way.

If they haven’t already done so, the Gilbeys can expect to jump the puddle with this calling card, a rugged, full-bore action adventure.

A LONELY PLACE TO DIE With Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Sean Harris, Eamonn Walker, Holly Boyd. Directed by Julian Gilbey; scripted by Julian and Will Gilbey. 107 minutes. Unrated (would be R for nonstop violence)

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