Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review - High Lane (2009 - Dir. Abel Ferry)

This should have been called The Ascent due to its similarity to The Descent (apologies if anyone has made that gag before - it's just too tempting). In High Lane they climb vertically rather than go pot-holing. In fact, the title High Lane is rubbish. I don't even know why I bothered to buy it on the strength of that (it was really, really cheap, perhaps?). The original title Vertige is a lot more accurate. And better.

This is another one of those films that is a game of two halves (like The Descent). The first part is great. I was thinking that it could maybe be an 8/10 if it kept it up. A group of buddies go climbing in Croatia and decide to follow a path that takes them through some exotically named locations: The Stairway to Heaven, Purgatory,  The Angels' Traverse and The Devil's Gateway. Sounds like a right laugh. Sadly the path is closed - this is where most normal people would go home for a nice cup of tea -  but they still decide to follow it anyway. They get what they deserve. Clowns.

I am fairly scared of heights (well, not heights really, more falling and hitting the floor at great speed causing neck snappage, brain spillage and maybe even shin barkage) so this was all fairly tense for me. The sequence where they cross a stupidly narrow bridge, made out of cables and two by fours, that is strung between two mountains about forty five thousand miles up in the air, is terrifying. I think I was so bothered by the whole experience that I did a little bum-spit.

It gets even worse. They can't turn back. What sweaty-palm causing climbing challenges await our band of chums? I was really looking forward to find out.

And then, unlike The Descent it all goes badly wrong. No more climbing challenges. It follows the pattern of 'Oo crikey! There's something up here with us!' but all the tension disappears and all that is left is a bog-standard stalker/hunter/mountain man with various humourous traps kind of story. And it's not particularly well told. 

On the plus side, it is generally well-shot with depth of field used to produce the feel of a film more expensive than it is. Also there are some Fort Boyard style shots of ladies climbing. Ahem. High Lane shows promise. The creative team behind it need to stop being filthy little homagers and make a proper climbing film. I'd watch it.

If you like this you could also try:
Frozen, The Descent, Wrong Turn, Touching the Void.