Five mountaineers in the remote Scottish highlands encounter peril from more than just the treacherous slopes in efficient genre pic “A Lonely Place to Die.” Latest effort from Blighty’s Julian Gilbey (“Rise of the Footsoldier”) adds intrigue to scares when five people stumble into a mysterious child-abduction plot. Given its lack of marquee names and internet buzz, the pic will need major marketing heft to lure auds when it assaults U.K. plexes in September, ahead of a November U.S. rollout. Terrain should prove less forbidding when the time comes for homevid exploitation.
A prologue establishes widescreen cinematic scale as seasoned mountaineers Alison (Melissa George) and Rob (Alec Newman) are entangled in a potentially fatal mishap caused by ill-attentive rookie Ed (Eragon’s Ed Speleers) on a sheer rock face. Meeting up with fellow climbers Jenny (Kate Magowan) and Alex (Garry Sweeney), they begin their expedition in earnest the next day. But their plans are interrupted when they hear faint cries, and discover young East European girl Anna (Holly Boyd) in a wooden chamber just below the ground’s surface. Speaking not a word of English, the scared child can’t communicate how she got there.
Alison and Rob elect to take a vertiginous shortcut to get help from the nearest settlement, while the rest look after Anna. But both parties soon become targets for a pair of snipers (Sean Harris, Stephen McCole) who evidently need the kid alive, and don’t care who they kill to retrieve her. The action climaxes in a local community that’s enjoying its annual pagan celebration. Anna, the surviving rescuers and the two ruthless assailants are joined by a fresh trio (Eamonn Walker, Karel Roden, Paul Anderson), there on a mission to secure the release of the child by any means necessary.
Exclusively shot in the Scottish highlands (except for a single underwater sequence), “A Lonely Place to Die” gets plenty of bang for its buck from its awesome mountain locations. Impressive stunt work coordinated by Jamie Edgell is another obvious plus. The cast struggles to put a stamp on generic roles, although Harris (“Harry Brown”) makes for a memorable villain, elevating the dialogue in a pivotal scene with Roden where everyone’s motivations are laid bare. The pagan ceremony adds eye candy to the action finale, and conveniently provides fireworks as cover for gunfire, but the large-scale and fanciful costuming owe more to the aspirations of the production team than to plausibility.