A scene from A Lonely Place to DieIn previous years, the action component of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival was typically fulfilled by Asian fight films. This year, audiences were ignited by an Australian mountain adventure that goes terribly awry.

A group of four tourists and their guide are hiking and climbing in the Scottish Highlands when they hear a small voice from beneath their feet. Sealed in a hole in the ground is a young, frightened girl who doesn’t speak English and, therefore, can’t explain to them what’s happened to her. Appalled, the group decides to return to the nearest town and turn the girl over to the authorities. However, the kidnappers quickly realize their hostage has been taken and set out to get her back by any means necessary.

This is an edge-of-your-seat, action thriller that gets your heart racing within the first few minutes of the movie, setting an exciting pace for the remainder of the film. As the stakes are raised and the near misses inch closer to their target, the movie’s frantic energy continues to soar. The adrenaline never stops pumping as there’s never a moment to rest. If not following the deadly pursuit of the kidnappers and their would-be whistle blowers, the girl’s official mercenary rescue party is discussing tactics. But as the bodies continue to pile up, the determination and courage of the good Samaritans becomes increasingly questionable.

The film’s locations are characters in themselves. Actually shot on cliff faces and treacherous mountains in Scotland, the beauty and threat of the location are both very real. The aerial helicopter shots add an even greater sense of the danger and magnificence of the area. In town, a pagan-like festival of fire, masks and nudity contributes to the frenetic atmosphere of the chase. It also makes the availability and donning of a spine chilling pig mask more reasonable.

The actors are pushed to their limits as they cling to the sides of mountains and race through the uneven terrain of the surrounding forests. They must have been in incredible shape as they spend a lot of time running throughout the picture. It’s difficult to determine whether the lead actress, Melissa George, and the child, Holly Boyd, bonded as the on-screen language barrier limits their ability to connect and adds another dynamic to the narrative.

A Lonely Place to Die is a thrill ride that never really let’s up until the credits roll.

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