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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: A Lonely Place to Die

March 20th, 2012

A Lonely Place to Die - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray

A Lonely Place to Die is a British film that was made for just $4 million in 2010 and debuted in its native market last year. However, it struggled to find an audience there and it came out Video on Demand here last November, before coming out on DVD this week. Low budget films tend to struggle to find theatrical releases, while foreign ones have an added obstacle to deal with, even those made in English. So is this film an undiscovered gem? Or was it destined to go unnoticed.

The Movie

The film begins with three friends climbing a mountain in the Scottish Highlands. Rob is nearing the top and while he's securing his position and drawing up the rope, Alison and Ed are down below taking pictures and not really paying attention. This causes quite an accident, and even though no one is killed, it's more excitement than they were bargaining for. It's not enough to stop them from climbing again.

When they get back to base, they meet up with a couple of other mountain climbing friends, Jenny and Alex (Garry Sweeney), a married couple who left their little girl at home. The plan is to head out the tackle one of the peaks, but the weather isn't co-operating, so they decide a more leisurely hike is better. Around lunch, Ed hears what he thinks is a person screaming. Its very muffled but when the others come and check it out, they eventually locate the source of the sound and it is a breathing hole and someone buried underground. When they dig they find a box, and when they open the box, they find a young girl (Holly Boyd). They are able to get a name, Anna, but nothing else, as the child speaks Serbian, I think. Now the five of them need to get this girl to the nearest town. There are two routes. The first is accross reasonably rough terrain, which will be slow going for a child, and then cutting back to the town once they are down. It's indirect and is about 20 miles in total. The second route it down a 500 foot cliff face, which is too difficult for most of the adult climbers and impossible for the child. But two of them could make it and for them, it's just a four mile trek in total.

So the group splits up into two, Alison and Rob taking the difficult climb and the rest taking the child along the indirect path. Unfortunately for them, it's not just the terrain they have to deal with and whomever put Anna in that box wants her back. Unfortunately for me, that's where we run into spoilers.

This film has a lot going for it, including some amazing shots of the mountain climbing in the first third of the film. (These look particularly awesome in high definition.) It sets up very tense second third of the film and the cat and mouse chase through the mountains is a very intense and makes the film worth watching. The final third is where the film stumbles a bit. When the characters get back to the village, there is a festival going on that involves weird costumes, fire jugglers, and fireworks. It's a major change in tone, which is a little hard to take. Also, the film starts to fall for a few clich├ęs at this point, including fireworks covering up gunshots, the festival providing cover, etc. On the other hand, the face-to-face meeting between the kidnappers and the man in charge of delivering the ransom is very well done. It adds up to a film that is on the border between good and very good.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, not unless you count the trailer. As I mentioned, the film looks great on Blu-ray with a number of amazing shots of the natural surroundings. Excellent details, strong colors, sharp contrast, deep blacks, etc. The audio is just as impressive with several scenes that will help you show off your home theater system. (There is one where some of the characters are carried away by the rapids, which has very immersive sound and plenty of action for the subwoofer). Considering the Blu-ray only costs $15 compared to $13 for the DVD, it's a bargain.

The Verdict

A Lonely Place to Die starts out very well, and while there are some points later on where the film has problems, the overall quality is still high enough to be worth checking out. There are no real extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray, but it is also a very reasonable price. Call it a solid rental, leaning towards a purchase.

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