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Tense action thriller A Lonely Place to Die is Quint's favorite movie of the Fantasia Film Festival (so far)!

Published at: July 18, 2011, 1:10 a.m. CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here freshly in from the Fantasia screening of A Lonely Place To Die, which has taken the spot of my favorite movie I’ve seen at the fest so far.

First off, this is the best looking Red 1 movie I’ve ever seen. It could have been the fact that it was digital photography on a film print that made it more filmic than most Red-shot movies, but I have to give a lot of credit to director Julian Gilbey for picking the Scottish Highlands and to DP Ali Asad for shooting them so well.

Melissa George stars as part of a group of mountain climbers out in the Highlands on a vacation of sorts. She’s one of the more experienced climbers in this group of friends and her skills are truly put to the test when the shit hits the fan. And boy does it ever.

This group of super nice mountain climbing people hear a whisper on the wind, which sounded strangely like Carol Anne talking to the Freelings through the TV set to me, and trace it back to a pipe sticking out of the ground. What happens after that is one of the best action thrillers I’ve seen in recent years that is filled with edge-of-your-seat tension, “oh fuck!” surprises and sympathy pains as our poor leads get banged up, beaten, shot, dunked, slammed and just generally have an unpleasant time.

 

 

Now, this isn’t a survival horror picture, but I would classify it as a survival picture. It’s much more of an action/adventure film. The bad guys are hardly supernatural, definitely not slashers or hillbilly rapists or any other woodsy/mountainy horror cliché. The pipe our group finds leads to a buried box containing a frightened little girl who doesn’t speak English. The men who put her there certainly aren’t happy about her being removed and it becomes a bit of a hunter/prey situation as the climbers try to get her off the mountain and to a small village.

I don’t want to say much more for fear of ruining some of the twists and turns this film takes because I’m sure you will all get a chance to see it. If I’m not mistaken it hasn’t picked up US Distribution yet, which boggles the mind because it’s an easy sell. The production value is crazy good, you can cut an epic awesome trailer for it and Melissa George doesn’t talk all funny, so maybe an American distributor won’t be shit-scared that US audiences won’t go see it.

While I don’t want to go into more story detail, I will say that director Julian Gilbey finds a pacing that I always look for in these kinds of movies. The closest comparison I can make is Die Hard. Wait, hold on… I didn’t just compare them as movies, so put the pitchforks down. The stories are radically different, but something that a lot of action movies don’t get about Die Hard is that after a tipping point (namely the arrival of Hans in Die Hard and the discovery of the pipe sticking out of the ground in A Lonely Place to Die) it is rocketing towards the finale. Even the quiet moments feel like they’re still shooting for the end credits.

That pacing is definitely here and just like in Die Hard our characters get fucked up. Everything has a price. If you want to jump into a fast-moving stream you’re going to pay a price. You’re not going to Schwarzenegger it and lazily swim to the muddy bank, you’re going to get hurt (or worse).

Although, I will say one minor nitpick with the movie is there are a few times that Melissa George get hurt much less than she should be. There’s a fall into a tree that she takes that looks like it should have broken about half her ribs. She doesn’t get up and walk away, really, but she has a very minor period of recovery that I did notice.

However, one or two small instances aside there’s a focus on the real world implications of this kind of thriller, an approach that keeps that feeling of danger on the forefront.

Not only do our characters have to fight the environment, but they also have to avoid the sniper rifle-wielding bad guys, so again it feels like Gilbey was making this movie just for me. I love snipers in movies, it’s a bit of a cine-fetish of mine and probably the reason why I have an unhealthy love for Enemy at the Gates.

 

 

All the script elements are there, the right tone and pace, sharp direction, beautiful cinematography and great performances all around, including Ed Speleers who has thankfully shrugged off the stench of Eragon and plays a great semi-douchey/semi-heroic character here. Melissa George is a great, strong female lead and gives one of the better performances of her career here. I have a feeling we’re maybe a year or two away from her being given an iconic role in something massive. She’s got the talent and the beauty. She’s just old enough to be a real woman’s woman. If the cinema Gods are friendly she’ll become a massive star.

There are also good turns by Eomonn Walker, Karel Roden and young Holly Boyd, but the stand-out bad guy performance here is Sean Harris (pictured above), who has a part in the upcoming Prometheus. It’s not surprising to me that Ridley Scott picked him, especially when you see him deliver a speech here that is filled with equal amounts of heartbreak and blistering coldness.

I think that’s just about all I have to say about this movie. Watch it when you get a chance. For you UK readers that’ll be FrightFest and for my Austin friends, it’ll be at Fantastic Fest. For the rest of you folks, I can’t believe a mini-major or even a major-major studio would pass this one up. Too marketable and, more importantly, it’s just too damn good to let slip through the cracks.

-Quint
quint@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback

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  • July 18, 2011, 1:14 a.m. CST

    sounds great, hope this will find its way to cinemas

    by manuehl

  • And raped by some Straw Dogs?

  • July 18, 2011, 1:43 a.m. CST

    Oh wait, I'm thinking of Susan George

    by Bobo_Vision

  • July 18, 2011, 1:46 a.m. CST

    Sounds awesome. And I've been waiting for Melissa to break through.

    by Lenny Nero

    And I hesitate to say it, but had they kept her on "Grey's" past her guest stint, she could have become a major household name. (Please refrain from posting "Grey's" hate, because that's beside the point.)

  • July 18, 2011, 2:17 a.m. CST

    Drug dealer from Harry Brown with the rifle?

    by stu_pickles

    The fucked up one with the scars and shit. I remember watching that movie and seeing his character and believing that he was indeed a crackhead. Then I thought if movies actually hire crackheads to play them on film. That'd be an odd audition.

  • July 18, 2011, 2:31 a.m. CST

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but........

    by James Stevenson

    When did you guys start updating on weekends? Are the few oases of compellingly-read TBers running dry? (which would seem to be the case, given the ill-advised "Top Talkbacks Over Past 24 Hours" sidebar). OK, on topic........ Melissa George-----Radha Mitchell------ Mary McCormack-------Maria Bello. All about the same. Tough blonde woman with an attitude, yet still sexy in a nonplussed manner. Got it.

  • ...Chief Brody trying to shoot the air tank at the end of Jaws? :)

  • July 18, 2011, 2:55 a.m. CST

    This review reminds me why I visit this site

    by melonman

    Finding out about a genuinely new movie to look forward to. Great review Quint.

  • July 18, 2011, 3:05 a.m. CST

    Sean Harris

    by jasper Stillwell

    He's superb. His turn in 'Red Riding' was terrifying. Few can do socially-inept, psycho-boy better any better. A class act.

  • July 18, 2011, 3:48 a.m. CST

    Hey Quint, does Melissa keep her Aussie accent?

    by Prydie

    We're not that hard to understand, are we?

  • July 18, 2011, 4:03 a.m. CST

    this sounds like that graphic novel, The Legend of Amigara Fault

    by IWasInJuniorHighDickhead

    at least at the start. It sounds like the premise falls away to become an actioner, but i'm pumped anyway, and Sean Harris is fantastic in everything.

  • July 18, 2011, 4:04 a.m. CST

    Red Riding

    by IWasInJuniorHighDickhead

    best Brit drama since Edge of Darkness.

  • July 18, 2011, 4:50 a.m. CST

    Her part of In Treatment was....

    by MoffatBabies

    pretty damned stunning. Best of the series. She is one of those actors who appear to have teeth that do not quite fit in their mouths, but not in an unattractive way.

  • July 18, 2011, 6:10 a.m. CST

    re: Sean Harris, stand-out bad guy

    by buggerbugger

    He always is, aye. He's been playing those sorts of roles on British TV for a good few years now and he's got a way of convincingly portraying incredibly nasty bastards. Hopefully this and 'Prometheus' lead him on to bigger things.

  • July 18, 2011, 6:12 a.m. CST

    The Avengers teaser was awesome!

    by Carl XVI Gustaf

    Oh, wrong website!

  • July 18, 2011, 6:38 a.m. CST

    he's best for me in 24 Hour Party People

    by IWasInJuniorHighDickhead

  • July 18, 2011, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Avengers teaser

    by frankenberry

    You guys do know the Avengers teaser has leaked online, right? Look, I love AICN. I visit this site a couple of times every day. But you guys have got to return to your roots. I remember when this place used to have insider news, movie set pics, and early reviews constantly. These days, however, movie geeks have to settle for Deadline Hollywood, Just Jared, and whatever crap pops up on the IMDb message boards. Quite frankly, if I have to give page hits to somebody, I'd much rather give them to Harry Knowles than that self-absorbed bitch Nikki Finke.

  • July 18, 2011, 7:56 a.m. CST

    You guys really want AICN to cover a cell-phone recorded...

    by carey adams

    .. trailer that we're all going to see on Friday? Jesus christ.

  • July 18, 2011, 8:25 a.m. CST

    inked

    by Carl XVI Gustaf

    yes, cause we want to talkback about it nowwwww!

  • July 18, 2011, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Quint! Make sure you see Ironclad!

    by billyhitchcock1

    Just watched it on blu and apart from a dodgy ratio on this UK release the film is awesome. The film needs a shot in the States.

  • July 18, 2011, 9:25 a.m. CST

    Avengers Teaser - I agree ...What's up with AICN not getting the scoop?

    by PopCultureJunkie

    http://nitro5737.blogspot.com/ I posted it.

  • July 18, 2011, 9:51 a.m. CST

    Re: Inked

    by frankenberry

    I see your point. But there was a time when AICN was THE site for movie geeks. This site would have informed us of something like the Avengers teaser leaking. These days, the only news AICN breaks is that of other sites breaking news. By the way, here's a good question: the Avengers teaser has been online since yesterday. Why hasn't AICN reported about it like they did the leaked Dark Knight teaser? Do they think there is no interest in The Avengers? Or do they not want to upset friends and/or contacts in the industry? And don't think I'm not a fan of AICN. I love this site and visit a couple of times each day. But I really do miss the old AICN - the rebel AICN - as I imagine a lot of movie geeks do.

  • July 18, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Ron Fucking Swanson Approves

    by stelios kantos

    *Nods head in approval*

  • July 18, 2011, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Sean Harris = mutant in creep

    by Waka_Flocka

    i had the opportunity to invest in this film but didn't bother as the other carnaby films have been a let down. this sounds like it's really good though

  • July 18, 2011, 2:17 p.m. CST

    I didn't like it at all...

    by Martin

    Funny Quint talks about pacing, because I thought that was the main problem with the movie. We get a few nice aerial shots, and a few good action sequences... But the movie feels slow and lacks rythm, mainly because there's abusive use of slow motions. Also some poor editing, scenes just drags on. The acting is downright awful, dialogue feels out of a 80's movie, the characters are unlikeable and you don't care what happens to them, the bad guys are stereotyped... So far I have seen Red State, Another Earth and A Lonely Place To Die... My favorite is bar far Another Planet. Red State was ok.

  • July 18, 2011, 2:34 p.m. CST

    I meant...

    by Martin

    Another Earth, not Another Planet (of course)