A LONELY PLACE TO DIE is both surprising and engrossing, taking elements of Deliverance, The Descent, and the best of extreme rock-climbing porn to make a mostly successful thriller mélange. British director Julian Gilbey's film puts five intrepid rock climbers in the remote wilds of the Scottish highlands, where they find a terrifying-looking pipe in the ground—and from that buried pipe comes the sound of a young girl screaming. Spooky, no?
The day after a close call on a sheer rock face, the shaken and hungover Alison (Melissa George) and her buddies set out from their mountaineering cabin to make a day climb. En route, they discover that breathing tube and dig out a little Serbian girl, who's hungry, thirsty, and traumatized—but because she can't speak English, she can't tell them how she got there. Alison and Rob (Alec Newman), the strongest climbers of the bunch, head off to get help for the girl with what little rope and supplies they brought with them, taking a shortcut down the not-at-all-foreboding Devil's Drop. While the rest of the crew tries to get as far from the hole in the ground as possible—and away from whoever put the girl in the makeshift tomb—two madmen pursue them, out to get the kid and pick off the do-gooders.
While A Lonely Place to Die gets messy at the end, trying to cover too much cinematic ground as a kidnapping flick, a serial killer movie, and a mobland vengeance tale, it's still a damn fine thriller. Maybe because it's a product of the UK, it manages to be shocking in a way a similar movie out of Hollywood couldn't pull off. The flip side of that lack of gloss is some silly plot elements and bits of stilted dialogue, but don't let that put you off; you really haven't seen a cat-and-mouse gasp-inducer quite like this.