Abel Ferry’s High Lane is a French language film that – like most foreign language films – should be watched with subtitles, rather than the opting for the dubbed version. I bring this up because the first time I saw the flick, it was via Netflix and the only audio option was with English language dubbing. Upon my first watch, I was so put off by the awful dubbing that I almost gave up in the first ten minutes. But I’m glad I didn’t, as High Lane is a truly exceptional feature filled with intense action sequences, legitimate scares, and beautiful cinematography.
The picture finds five friends coming together for a climbing adventure in the Croatian Mountains. After arriving at their destination, they learn that their planned route has been shut down. Rather than do the sensible thing and turn back–which would make for a very short movie–they throw caution to the wind and attempt to make the climb anyway. Not long after they begin their ascent, the climbers are met with a series of setbacks that range in severity from inconvenient to life threatening. But little do the thrill-seeking comrades know, the worst is yet to come.
It may not be obvious from the plot crunch above but High Lane is a bit reminiscent of Neil Marshall’s The Descent in that it is front loaded with hair-raising and suspenseful action sequences that put the audience on high alert long before the actual antagonist arrives on the scene. My nerves were shot by the time High Lane went full on slasher but this only added to my enjoyment. My frazzled state of mind made each stalk and slash sequence that follows the intense first act that much more exciting. I’m not just being hyperbolic when I say the film strikes the perfect balance between horror and suspense.
In addition to smartly written and well-timed scares, screenwriters Johanne Bernard, Louis-Paul Desanges, and Ludovic du Clary managed to script relatable characters that feel like they are actually friends. Their connection comes across as authentic and the core cast are far more likable (with the exception of one intentionally obnoxious character) than what we’re used to seeing in a slasher picture.
Speaking of well developed characters, Chloe (played brilliantly by Fanny Valette) is saddled with emotional baggage that makes her far more dynamic than your average horror movie protagonist. Her backstory plays an important role in her character arc. But I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoiling anything.
High Lane is a high-energy horror/adventure film that combines breathtaking scenery with high-octane thrills and plenty of gore. All of the elements work together to create a thrilling and highly entertaining viewing experience. It’s like Cliffhanger meets Wrong Turn in Croatia. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out.
WICKED RATING: 8/10