Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{A Lonely Place to Die screens at the Grand Illusion Cinema at 11pm on Jan 20 & 21, 26 & 27}

If you were starting to think that mountain climbing might be for safe enough for you, along comes A Lonely Place to Die to convince you otherwise. What starts out feeling like a tense (if familiar) man against the mountain flick becomes so much more more. This film, which I was exposed to at Fantastic Fest back in September makes its way to the Grand Illusion Cinema as their Fri/Sat late night screening this week and next. It's a heck of a thrill ride that had me hooked from the first moments. Even in a weekend of lots of appealing action choices, this is not a film you want to let slip by.

The picture starts with three climbers ascending a terrifyingly sheer cliff — at least to a wimp such as myself.  I'm not entirely sure how the climbing scenes were filmed, but the dynamic and zooming camera work gives an intensely dramatic sense of scale to the events, making nature just as much a character as the people involved throughout the course of the film. The opening sequence pounds in that the land is not to be trifled with, as a momentary lapse of judgment almost kills two-thirds of the party. Setting the tone that danger is around every corner.

The three ascend to a rental cottage where they meet up with another couple who've left their child in the care of grandparents to join the outing. After a night of socializing, they awake to set out for the day's climb. Hiking towards their day's destination the group makes a horrible discovery: a young girl trapped in an underground cell. She doesn't speak English and she's been there a while. Seeking to find help as quickly as possible, but constrained by the girl's pace, the group decides to take alternate paths for help. But of course someone put her in that box…and it wasn't the mountain. Meaning everyone is suddenly facing a far more dangerous vacation than they signed up for.

I'm going to stop there to avoid giving away any more away. This is a really well put together effort that keeps the tension high throughout the film. Not to mention delivering a storyline that while horrific makes a good amount of logical sense. The picture kept me wondering to the end what the outcome would be. Acting is solid, the dialog realistic, and the characters well drawn enough to care. Development of the team isn't super deep but enough for the choices and sacrifices they make for each other to feel right. And there's more than enough to emotionally bond with to enjoy one of the more satisfying shoves in my recent cinematic memory. It's worth saying once more that the outdoor photography really was breathtaking. In short, worth the time. And the adrenaline crash afterward.