Lame thriller fails to scale new heights
If you’re scared of heights, you might want to give this vertigo-inducing thriller a miss. You might also want to avoid this if you’re looking for something that can reasonably be considered a good movie. This isn’t to say The Ledge is completely awful but despite its similarities to Cliffhanger, the pinnacle of climbing thrillers, this loses its grip with the dialogue and storytelling.
The movie opens with scenes involving Kelly (Brittany Ashworth) and Sophie (Anaïs Parello) who have ventured to Northern Italy for a rock-climbing expedition. But before they can get into their climbing gear, a group of men arrive and the two women spend an evening around a campfire with them. Unfortunately, one of the men, Josh (Ben Lamb), has more on his mind than toasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. After Kelly decides to head off to her cabin for a good night’s sleep, Josh decides to make a move on Sophie but this has tragic repercussions.
Josh follows Sophie through the woods and tries to rape her. She escapes by clambering up the side of a nearby rockface but Josh and the rest of the men pursue her. Realising her friend might be in trouble, Kelly heads into the forest and arrives at the mountain just in time to see her friend get thrown off a ledge. She captures the horrifying moment with her video camera but makes a noise while filming. The other men hear her and start to give chase and this is the catalyst for the rest of the movie as Kelly free climbs up the mountain to escape her pursuers.
The premise of the movie isn’t a bad one and the climbing scenes are well-realised. It is clear that Ashworth has climbing experience so this adds a little bit of authenticity to the film. The location shooting also helps as the actress climbs a real rockface, for some of her scenes at least. As such, the movie is quite tense at times as we fully believe that Kelly is in peril as she scales the mountain away from her attackers.
Some of the credit needs to go to the director, Howard J. Ford, who pulls off some incredibly tricky shots at what I can assume to be great height. Admittedly, there was probably a lot of camera tricky going on – it’s unlikely the actors were paid to risk their lives by scaling too far up the mountain – but there are moments when we are given some stunning views of the cliff-face in relation to the valley below.
So far so good and the movie might seem quite promising. The director has turned in good work in the past, most notably with The Dead and The Dead 2, which were both fairly decent zombie movies. But despite his skills with a camera and an ability to ratchet up tension, he loses his footing with this one. While there are a few positives, these are mostly undermined by the screenplay.
One of the movie’s biggest problems is the dialogue. None of it is convincing and much of it is rather cringe-worthy. This is partly due to the wooden acting, although in fairness, the actors probably struggled to make much sense of the lines that they were given. As such, they can’t be entirely blamed for their stiff performances. In fairness, Brittany Ashworth fares better here, not only because she doesn’t have a lot to say but because she has the acting ability to overcome the weaknesses in the script. If the movie had relied more on action than conversation, some of the other actors would have fared better too.
Another issue is characterisation. Ashworth is given an interesting and believable backstory so we can buy into her character and her motivations for wanting to visit Northern Italy and climb a mountain. But it’s a different story when it comes to the guys. There is a little bit of backstory thrown in but it doesn’t help us get to know the characters any better.
Josh comes off the worse as he’s portrayed as a two-dimensional cartoonish villain. The other men appear to be much nicer than he is, but despite their dislike of their friend’s actions, they still go along with his orders and do his dirty work for him. It’s hard to understand why they are friends with him in the first place as they constantly make reference to the guilt they feel about their involvement with him in the past.
It’s a shame that the script is so bad as this could have been a decent cat and mouse thriller. As I suggested, the actual scenes of mountain climbing are pretty good and there are occasional flashes of invention within the action scenes. But as the people in this tale aren’t very believable and as they are forced to speak what can only be described as utter drivel, you wouldn’t be blamed if you decided to cut the rope and stop watching the movie way before the closing credits start to roll.
Verdict - 4/10