You will remember the name Julian Gilbey and his forthcoming thriller A Lonely Place to Die, the Melissa George starrer that’s bound to leave an impact on nearly every cinema worshipper. Even with a jumbled third act, this genre mash-up is a riveting circus of a movie that refuses to ever ease off the pedal. It’s so badass that Gilbey ignores the rules of cinema and risks it all to deliver a nonstop punch in the face that will have you on the edge of your seat from minute one.
That’s a whole lotta hype – my apologies if I got you overly excited. Let’s take a second to breathe.
A Lonely Place to Die follows a group of mountaineers having the time of their life, at least until they stumble across a little girl buried alive in the middle of the woods. Quickly reacting, they save her and work fast to get her to safety. It’s all fine and dandy until Gilbey’s homage to Deliverance kicks in and the friends are hunted down like wild animals. The kills are vicious, and nobody is safe. Intentionally or not, Gilbey breaks various rules of cinema, disengaging from tension in an attempt to surprise an unsuspecting viewer. To be a bit clearer, major events take place at the most unlikely of moments (no tension, build or musical cues to tip you off!)
The film is incredibly self aware and even brings its own actions into question. During a tense moment between Melissa George’s character and her boyfriend, he proclaims: “None of this would be happening if we just left the girl alone.” George sharply responds, “Look at that girl and tell me you could have just left her there.” It’s exposition that looks the audience in the face and says, “We know exactly what you’re thinking.”
The chase film becomes an action-packed fight to survive that takes an unexpected (and slightly unfortunate) twist into the local town where the locals are celebrating something with a parade and fireworks. The third act then splits into two directions and also becomes two separate stories. First, the audience is pulled into a story with faceless characters that nobody gives a sh*t about. It’s a boring, tenseness confrontation between one of the kidnappers and the “exchange man”. This goes off on its own tangent and it’s own direction until the end credits, and Melissa George/the protagonist never crosses this path again. Instead, George is taken on a rough ride in what is an obvious homage to the home invasion genre. She’s forced to battle one of the kidnappers in a brutal sequence that’s out of this world fantastic. It’s unfortunate that her path ends with sort of a whimper leaving much to be fulfilled. The best way to explain without giving anything away is that it would be as if Bruce Willis never came face-to-face with Alan Rickman in Die Hard, or if Ripley never stared down the Queen in Aliens.
Even with a sort of flaccid finale, the stunning cinematography and beautiful scope ultimately put the icing on the cake of an otherwise brilliantly crafted movie. I predict that A Lonely Place to Die will be (deservingly) celebrated by film fanatics from all genres and will wield it’s place among one of the best thrillers in the past decade.