A Lonely Place to Die opens by showing you it’s on a real mountain. You see Alison (Melissa George), Ed (Ed Speelers) and Rob (Alec Newman) scaling a face and it looks like it’s really them and it’s really high up. You see Rob winching up his ropes so they’re safe, and an upside down point of view when Ed takes a careless fall. That’s your Cliffhanger opening.
The trio meets up with Alex (Garry Sweeney) and Jenny (Kate Magowan) at a cabin and have some bonding drinking and poker. The defining characteristics are Ed complains a lot and Alex is the group A-hole. The next day, hiking the more foresty terrain, they find a tube sticking out of the ground. It’s a breathing tube for someon buried alive so they dig out a little girl, Anna (Holly Boyd).
The nearest town is 20 miles away, but it’s okay. All they have to do is scale down Devil’s Drop for a shortcut. Only Rob and Alison can make it down the drop so they split up and the other three take the girl. Soon Anna’s kidnappers are after them with sniper rifles.
The mountain climbing is intense. Someone could fall suddenly with no telegraphing or foreshadowing. Falling rocks come really close and you don’t even see where they’re coming from. Alison can’t even shout over the roaring rapids when she’s separated from the group. The sniper rifles are ever present and the shots can come out of nowhere.
The characters talk tech really well. I believe they know what they’re doing. Managing Anna is a dilemma and one tough guy has to climb on a hurt leg at one point. Anyone can go at any time. Well, not Alison because Melissa George is the above the title star, and not Anna obviously, but that’s still four for the picking.
It’s better than Sanctum, because it actually has momentum that someone who’s not an expert mountaineer will be affected by. The character types are just as one dimensional, but at least Alex risks himself for the group when you think he’s just going to be difficult.
Action Film of the year? No, but it’s an impressive hardcore thriller that definitely stands out from the competition at ActionFest.