Thursday, October 27, 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

This review is part of my coverage of the 2011 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, taking place October 20-27 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For more information, check out their website. For my full coverage go here.

Merging survivalist thriller with action-packed chase movie, A Lonely Place to Die focuses on a group of thrill-seeking mountain climbers exploring the Scottish Highlands. When they come upon a young Serbian girl buried alive in the middle of the woods, their vacation is suddenly catapulted into a deadly chase populated with sheer cliffs, killer kidnappers, a pagan festival, and mercenaries with questionable motives. Experienced climber and presumably professional badass Alison (Melissa George) leads the way as the group tries to find help in the closest village.

With extensive birds-eye views of Scotland's gorgeous mountains and impressive on-location climbing action, A Lonely Place is a tense, engaging film from start to finish. At first I thought it would be a nail-biter survivalist film, which really isn't my thing because I am far too paranoid and squeamish for such matters, but after the characters are established in the opening scenes it pretty quickly changes over into a well-executed chase thriller with terrifying realism. A lot of people die in this movie and I had no idea how far sibling filmmakers Julian and Will Gibney would take their story, making the high stakes and removed setting all the more intensely felt.

The main thing we can take away from this movie- besides that mountain climbing is terrifying and Serbian crime lords are totally creepy- is that Melissa George is fucking hardcore. Her character is immediately shown to be the most capable in the film and continues to display signs of utter badassery with each passing scene. She takes a beating (both physically and emotionally) but refuses to stay down and pushes on through sheer force of will. It's amazing. The rest of the cast is good too but she is just so strong and resourceful it's hypnotic.

While some of the script's details are a little fuzzy or convoluted, for the most part A Lonely Place is tightly-paced, with beautiful cinematography, strong characterization, and a bit of a mystery. Our heroes have stumbled into a major conspiracy completely accidentally, and for most of the film they have no idea who is chasing them or why exactly, which makes things more exciting and even scary for the audience. It's definitely one of the best films I've seen at Toronto After Dark.

4.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Maybe it's just because I've got Michael Biehn on the brain (he was at TADFF for his thriller The Divide- more on that later), but I could see this going well with The Terminator. They're both well-executed chase movies with a cool lady.

A Lonely Place to Die facebook

A Lonely Place to Die trailer

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention, I wasn't aware of it until just now. But it sounds like something I'd really like and I do admire Melissa George. The Scottish Highlands are also a great place to set a thriller.

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  2. Wow thank you for showing me this, always forget to check out the other film festivals and I'm glad I haven't missed this one.

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