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STUDIO: MPI Home Video & IFC Midnight
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
Five attractive French people go climbing in Croatia and get killed off one by one by an unattractive man.
Directed by Abel Ferry, written by Johanne Bernard and Louis-Paul Desanges, starring Fanny Valette, Johan Libéreau and Raphaël Lenglet.
A well-crafted but uneven thriller along the lines of The Hills Have Eyes.
High Lane is a well-acted, well-directed, well-shot film, but sadly one that brings nothing new to the table. The first 30 minutes are really exiting and absolutely terrifying at time – this is before any horror elements are even introduced. 20 somethings bickering and scaling up a shady mountainside was entertaining enough. Once the backwoods horror kicks in, things become terribly formulaically flaccid. The climbers are picked off one by one until it’s woman versus inbred mutant. Bleh.
The group is led up the mountain by Fred (Nicolas Giraud, the one who initially takes Liam Neeson’s daughter in Taken). He’s the only one who seems to know anything about climbing and as their fearless leader, he decides it’s a great idea to lead them up a mountain face that’s closed to the public. Things start going wrong and the kids undergo one of the most nail-biting climbs since Cliffhanger. The cinematography during these sequences is remarkable. Cinematographer Nicolas Massart did a ridiculous job of putting us right on the side of the mountain alongside the knucklehead kids.
All of the climbing moments are terrific, but the pace and suspense go downhill once they get to the top. Amidst the inbred mutant mayhem, there’s am incredibly weak subplot about one of the kids, Chloé (Fanny Valette), being a nurse who recently wasn’t able to save a child’s life. It adds some much needed emotional weight to the otherwise shallow story, but it’s not enough. The kids are all likeable enough but they all come off as secondary characters. Besides the nurse bit, the only other characterization attempt is a dull love triangle.
Giraud and Valette are terrific with the material given them, as are all the other kids. The problem is, as with many slasher films and such, there’s no reason to root for them. They feel like stock characters and watching them get killed off is more fun than watching them survive. Lucky for us, there sure is a lot of killing on the High Lane. It’s definitely worth a watch, especially for the ass-clenching climbing sequences.
The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The sweeping shots of the mountains and forests are downright gorgeous. The 5.1 mix is fantastic, particularly during the climbing scenes. The rest of the film is a lot of yelling.
The only special feature is a trailer. A behind the scenes look is criminally absent, I would have loved some insight on shooting the climbing scenes.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars