With British horror now returning to the peak it previously reached so many years ago at the height of the Hammer Horror fame, it's slowly but surely become one of the freshest genres around. With such original titles as 'Severance', 'Eden Lake' and most notably 'The Descent' gracing our screens with their deeply chilling presence as of late, all eyes have been transfixed on Film4's Frightfest, Britain's leading horror-based film festival, for the latest slice of truly horrifying cinema. As this year's closing night film, 'A Lonely Place to Die' found itself walking in the footsteps of some true hidden gems, but could it live up to expectations?
As the brainchild of previously uncelebrated brothers Julian and Will Gilbey, 'A Lonely Place to Die' will most likely not register on many people's radars. The untraditional location and lack of star power will mean many shall overlook it's existence, but hidden behind the shoestring budget, the relatively unknown cast and the oddly basic sounding plot lies a deeply disturbing and involving thriller with little use of exhausted cliches and an unbelievably unpredictable narrative.
Despite a rather breezy but nail-biting opening, the Gilbey brothers hold off on the majority of the shocks until at least half-way in, allowing the basic emotional structure and tone of the picture to fully take hold first. A rather basic introduction is rather quickly washed over, the dialogue clunky but acceptable and the mood settling nicely. However, when the script does begin to take off and lives are lost in the blink of an eye, the film truly kicks it into overdrive. What the Gilbeys to do so well is to capture the shock of loss. The sickeningly fast pace of death and how quickly it can creep up on you. It is here where they truly reach their winning stride, a solid 30 minutes of the movie bang in the middle providing incredibly alarming and startling fresh thrills literally appearing as if out of no where. One second the mood is calm then a second later, another life lost. Doubtlessly marvellous.
Veteran-horror-chick Melissa George leads the pack of otherwise unnoticeable climbers, assassins and lost little girls, her performance both solid and believable but never once bordering on the outstanding. Her fellow cast members too tow the line ably but none particularly shine, their characters becoming nothing more than nicknames, but likable nicknames at that. It is more the presence of certain characters than the characters themselves that begin to command the scares, one powerfully-stomached assassin becoming almost an unstoppable force and a true sense of fear within the viewer's mind.
Following the rather intense and erratically unforeseeable events of the second act, the plot begins to flesh itself out a tad, unfortunately losing much of the suspense and fear that so dominated the previous section. Much more of the Gilbeys' obvious dialogue and sudden character appearances are thrown in in an attempt to fuel some rather strange and disconcerting explanations, forcing the thumping pace back down to a general saunter, sadly wrecking the previously unpredictable tone.
When the finale does eventually come however, it thankfully manages to mimic the truly demented tone of the second act at least partially, creating a nail-biting yet slightly foreseeable conclusion. Although it might not be the painfully dark and sinister climax many may hope for, it's certainly a fitting end to a surprisingly thrilling and incredibly shocking piece of British cinema.
Although filled with pointless landscaping shots (which remain beautiful for all of a minute) and shamefully poor dialogue, 'A Lonely Place to Die' succeeds in creating an astoundingly rickety and worrying tone in which no character's safety is guaranteed, leaving you both unsettled and gasping for more. It's far from perfect, but exists as a wonderfully disconcerting experience, earning itself a place amongst the other hidden gems of the British horror market; 'A Lonely Place to Die' demands and deserves your attention.