I started to watch this movie alone. By the time it was over, I was accompanied by six people. That’s a good sign for “A Lonely Place to Die.” Not only was it an entertaining experience, but it managed to have random passer-byers stop whatever they were doing and watch the last half. It was fairly easy for them to fill in the gaps for what they missed so the plot is pretty simple.
“A Lonely Place to Die” is a thriller about five mountain climbers finding a kidnapped child in the Scottish highlands. Shortly after they find the girl her two capturers begin to hunt them down. That short synopsis it the entire movie. After a brief introduction to the characters, the chase is on, and the rest of the movie is them trying to get away.
The girl, Anna (Holly Boyd), does not speak English, so when the mountaineers find her, they have little information to what’s going on. Then two evil doers start shooting at them. That is pretty much all the information they have to work with throughout the entire movie. “We found a kid in a hole in the ground and now someone’s trying to kill us. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
The audience gets a few more perspectives than the hikers. We also follow the two thugs Mr. Kidd (Sean Harris) and Mr. Mcrae (Stephen McCole). This does not seem to be their first rodeo for they have absolutely no reservations about killing. They’ll shoot anyone that seems to be the slightest inconvenience. I won’t say why they want with the child, but I will let you know that they refer to her as “The Money.” That’s way too obvious. You’re smart people, you probably pieced it together already. They’re kidnappers and they’re holding Anna as a ransom .
There are a lot of movies specified as thrillers, but very few of them actually come off as thrilling (sorry “Contraband”). I can happily report that “A Lonely Place to Die” is actually a gripping experience. Not only are the antagonists threatening, but the terrain is terrifying in its own right. I feel bad for any stuntmen that worked on this film, because this movie has the best cinematic tumbling-off-stuff I have ever seen. Mountain climbing is dangerous to begin with, so mountain climbing while being shot at is just a bad scenario.
This movie is incredibly well made. The cinematography is gorgeous and it’s not just because of the luscious scottish landscape. Action scenes are so well composed that the stakes seem to be raised by the storytelling alone. The sound design is something that needs a bit of praise as well. When people fall off cliffs, you don’t hear these massive cracks of bone, but subtle thuds and crunches. That small nuance into realistic sounds make the impact of falling that much more painful.
For a movie where you know very little about each character, I found myself surprised to care so much for each character. I attribute my seemingly irrational empathy towards the performances. Even though the actors have seemingly little to work off of, they add a substantial amount of depth in what they do have. Even the apathetic villain has a moment of sympathy towards the end of the film. Seeing a man mercilessly murder people for ninety minutes and then have a believable heartfelt monologue is an impressive feet. Good job, Sean Harris.
I feel like there’s been a departure in this type of filmmaking in the last decade. It’s a shame, because “A Lonely Place to Die” is a great example at what the thrilling chase genre can offer. Don’t read into that too much though. “A Lonely Place to Die” is good because it’s well made. In the wrong hands this could have easily been another “Verticle Limit.”
But where is that “Lonely Place to Die?”