Punctuated by scenes of violence that become increasingly preposterous, Julian Gilbey’s film orchestrates a high-stakes game of cat and mouse against stunning yet hazardous vistas.
Cinematographer Ali Asad captures the rugged splendour of the mountains, scaling sheer rock faces and careening through undergrowth as the main cast run for their lives from gun-toting pursuers.
Once we understand the motives of the various characters, tension dissipates and it’s simply a case of treading water until a brutal final showdown.
The script, co-written by Gilbey and his brother Will, requires numerous suspensions of disbelief and portrays the Highlanders as bewildered bystanders to the ensuing carnage.
Apparently, no one thinks to telephone emergency services when gun men run amok in their tight-knit community.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when the police do become involved, they are completely ineffectual and leave the most vulnerable people exposed to a bullet between the eyes.
Alison (Melissa George), Rob (Alec Newman), Alex (Gary Sweeney) and Jenny (Kate Magowan) and the relatively inexperienced Ed (Ed Speleers) head into the Scottish wilderness to train for an ascent of the Eiger later in the year.
During a hike through a forest, the friends discover a badly dehydrated, eight-year-old Serbian girl called Anna (Holly Boyd) buried in a chamber in the earth.
No sooner have the mountaineers rescued Anna than they come under fire from kidnappers Mr Kidd (Sean Harris) and Mr Mcrae (Stephen McCole).
The climbers scatter.
“Follow the money,” growls Mr Kidd and the two men follow Alison and the little girl.
Meanwhile, Darko (Karel Roden), who represents Anna’s father, heads into the mountains with hired gun Andy (Eamonn Walker) and a suitcase containing the ransom money that should ensure the girl’s safe return.
Little does he know that the kidnappers no longer have the prized asset.
A Lonely Place To Die is an effective genre piece that sets our pulses racing while the characters are fighting for their lives in the great outdoors.
Main cast sustain injuries or are cornered at regular intervals so the kidnappers can pick them off.
Once the chase moves into a village during a pagan fire festival, we can stretch our incredulity no further.
Nor it seems can Gilbey and his brother sustain dramatic momentum and the plot grinds to an unsatisfactory conclusion.
George and her co-stars cope well with the physical aspects of their two-dimensional roles but there’s scant emotion in the script and too little time to explore the potentially intriguing bond between Alison and Anna amidst all of the bloodshed.
By Damon Smith
:: SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 5/10
Released: September 7 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas), 99mins