High Lane [Vertige] (2009)

Cliffhanger meets Wrong Turn, Vertical Limit meets Wilderness, that bit at the start of Mission Impossible 2 when Tom Cruise is trying to look all cool climbing that mountain meets that bit at the end of any horror film set in a forest with some scary hick psychopath.
All of these could be used to describe High Lane, a French hybrid horror which mixes… Well I am sure you have guessed what it mixes already.

A group of twenty something friends on a vacation in Croatia decide to traverse a particularly tricky but breathtaking mountain climb, unaware of the nasty fate that awaits them. As they climb, tensions run high in the group with jealousy and anger rearing their ugly heads – all in a battle for the heart and attention of Chloe (Fanny Valette) between her old flame and her new boyfriend.

However love is the least of the gangs’ worries as the route becomes ever more dangerous as they go, with disaster striking when a rope bridge collapses. Attempting to find help and a way back before night falls the group discover they are not alone on the cliff top. Traps have been laid out and there is someone hunting them in the forest, someone with evil intentions and a very sharp knife.

Directed by relative new comer Abel Ferry and co-penned by Louis-Paul Desanges who also co-wrote the recently reviewed Mutants, High Lane feels a lot like two separate films sellotaped together tenuously by the weak plot and genre conventions.

The early mountain climbing sequences are well set up and well shot with some excellent stunts, creating a satisfying if predictable first act which will terrify anyone with vertigo. Showcasing the stunning scenery we are treated to all the obvious tense moments including crumbling pathways, loose grips and a character with a massive fear of heights trying to prove to his new girlfriend he’s a tough guy and inevitably failing in a major freak-out scene.

High Lane hits rock bottom however when the characters come off the mountain and into the forest which is the domain of the unoriginal and unscary backwards psycho. The ‘hick who hunts humans’ has been done in so many horrors, with rampaging rednecks turning up so often now it is almost a laughable plot device (one parodied particularly well in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay).

With the second act so weak and derivative any tension and character development that was built up from the early scenes is instantly lost, along with all the respect and enjoyment and the movie limps along to a boring listless predictable climax

Sadly not the genre mash-up it promises to be this is a classic case of concept over content which sadly fails to inspire or impress for its woefully short 75 minute running time.

One for the hardcore climbing horror fans only, if such a subclass exists and I hope it does for High Lane’s sake.

Movie Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ 

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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