High Lane

Director: Abel Ferry (2009)
Starring: Fanny (HA) Valette, Johan Libereau, Raphael Lenglet
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

Does for mountain climbing what The Descent did for caving. Only The Descent was still good after it shifted tone to straight cannibal horror. High Lane has an excellent setup; high on tension and beautiful to look at - and then blows it with a final act made up of unoriginal backwoods slasher dross.

The movie starts off very well, with a group of friends tackling a closed mountain trail for a weekend of rock-climbing and group bonding. Only the route's treacherous and crappy, and there's a psychopathic huntsman living up in them there hills. Oops.

The mountain climbing stuff, High Lane gets right. It's as well-filmed and beautifully done as even Cliffhanger (surely the best mountain action movie of all time) with the group's many falls and tumbles providing much tension and thrills. This part of the movie is what The Hills Have Eyes 2 remake sequel should have been. Everything thereafter? Well, it makes even The Hills Have Eyes 2 look adequate.

It's telling that the gory stuff should kick off with a bear trap. I don't think I've seen a single backwoods horror movie without a bear trap in at least five years. Then there's a pit with spikes in it, which a character falls down. Then someone gets shot with a crossbow bolt. Hmm, all this movie is missing is a dodgy looking cottage which actually turns out to be the bad guy's house. Oh. The villain of the piece isn't particularly scary or intimidating, just an ugly-looking huntsman who collects heads and lives in a shithole. Of course, he ties the kids up and vaguely irritates them for a bit, before a series of scuffles and stabby kerfuffles. Spoiler: someone falls off a cliff. The only mild distraction comes from some interesting decisions made by the characters, the pretty environment, and the fact that the lead actress' name is Fanny (a word that, in English colloquial, is so much better than the Americanism). Heh.

Ultimately, I wish I could hate it more. But it counts this little ditty quite heavily on its soundtrack:

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