Had “A Lonely Place to Die” only focused on a team of climbers beset by a sniper it would have given us some jittery shocks.
Instead, the film supplements the climbing scenes with a geopolitical subplot woven expertly into the narrative.
The result? The best thriller you missed in 2011, but a fine new Blu-ray release for your home video collection.
Melissa George stars as Alison, a mountain climber preparing for tackle a Scottish peak along with a gaggle of personality types. One quick note about “Place” – the characters may seem like archetypes in the beginning, but they often change in small but subtle ways as the story progresses.
The group hasn’t even reached its destination when they stumble upon a young girl buried alive underneath their feet. The discovery shocks them, but they soon learn the folks who captured the terrified girl don’t want anyone to interfere with their plans.
And if that means using a sniper’s rifle to take out Alison and her pals, so be it.
Those early, shocking skirmishes between the climbers and an unseen foe are shot with brutal efficiency by director Julian Gilbey, but the film expands into richer territory when we learn the motivations behind the killers’ actions.
We’ll say no more, save that you’ll see an outstanding exchange between two parties late in the film, a tribute to the power of blunt dialogue and mature acting choices.
“A Lonely Place to Dies” takes full advantage of Blu-ray’s striking visuals, particularly in the film’s gorgeous opening sequence. And George, who previously survived the inscrutable thriller “Triangle,” gives the film a sane and sober heroine, one unafraid of submerging her natural beauty for the story’s sake.
Alison’s transformation from rugged climber to maternal protector gives shading to both her character and the film’s often histrionic thrills.
The film’s only extra is the movie trailer, leaving consumers wondering how some of “Place’s” harrowing climbing scenes came to pass.