Altitude: Blu-ray and DVD

Monday, 14 March 2011 10:33

This, in short, is a film about a bunch of teenagers stuck on a plane as it slowly ascends to the heavens. Think bunch of teenagers stuck in a log cabin as all around them descends into hell and you are pretty much there. But this film has much more to it than your usual run of the mill teen horror. In fact, it is hard to squeeze it into a genre at all. Part horror, part SF and part fantasy “Altitude” mixes everything into its pot of aviation flavoured soup.

Our story begins with the mid air collision of two light aircraft, leaving a young family and the pilot dead. We then skip forward to the present day and meet our heroine, Sara (Jessica Lowndes – “The Haunting of Molly Hartley”; “Autopsy”) a fresh faced college girl who has just got her pilots licence and has agreed to fly her friends to a concert. We learn early on that the pilot killed in the opening scene was her mother.

Altitude - available now on DVD and Blu-raySara is joined by Mel (Julianna Guill (“Glory Daze”; “90210”; “Friday the 13th”) who is at the centre of an obvious love triangle with two of the other passengers, Cory (Ryan Donowho – The OC) and Sal (Jake Weary – “Fred: The Movie”; “As the World Turns”).  The last member of the group Bruce (Landon Liboiron – “Life Unexpected”; Degrassi: The Next Generation) is a quite withdrawn lad who appears to be infatuated or obsessed with Sara.

As they embark on their flight it soon becomes apparent that Sara has bitten off more than she can chew. Although competent in her flying ability she is easily spooked and struggles to maintain control of her passengers. The group are soon in difficulty when an onboard malfunction forces them into a steady climb. Add to this the electrical storm they are flying through and the recipe is nearly complete for the all out carnage that is to follow. But is there something else out there in the clouds?

This film is a veritable melting pot of ideas, and that is perhaps its problem. There is simply too much going on. We have the group of teenagers, most of whom you cannot wait to be killed off, the strange behaviour of Bruce, the plane malfunction, the storm and the thing in the storm. Separate these ideas out and plump them up a bit and you have several decent storylines. Put pushed together as they are in this film and they frequently grate against each other and do not gel.

Perhaps if the kids all got on a bit more we might have been upset at their inevitable demises, but we do not miss them. Perhaps Bruce’s storyline could have been hinted at earlier in the film rather than right at the end. Instead we are left annoyed and confused by all the separate elements that have been shoe horned into the cramped confines of the plane.

But, this film is technically very good considering the small budget and small set. Pretty much the whole film is set inside (and a little bit outside) the plane during its flight. The actors have to twist and turn and scramble around in the confines of the cramped cabin. There is a constant backdrop of clouds and thunder through every window, the atmosphere within the plane is kept tense by some excellent lighting. The actors are lit well, but you know it is dark outside. So many films set at night are lost to a murky darkness where the viewer cannot tell friend from foe, but not here. The stunts look convincing and although the physics are quite suspect one can quickly dismiss this to the SF elements of the film.

The film also boasts a good cast, the actors all do a very good job considering their work environment, a shame then there is little character development. Lowndes holds the lead convincingly going from a little cocky to vulnerable to heroine with ease. Liboiron’s portrayal of Bruce is sensitively done and the others keep the love triangle simmering throughout their flight.

Director Kaare Andrews is an author and illustrator of comics (“The Incredible Hulk”; “Ultimate X-Men”; “Amazing Spiderman”) and his artistic talents are obvious. The tight space for the action to take place in is well used. Any avid reader of comics and graphic novels will appreciate his use of the space. Indeed Andrews storyboarded the film in such detail its use as an extra makes a welcome addition.

On the whole this film is not bad, it could be better, but it was fun, and the conclusion was worth it. Indeed a whole new film could be made just based on how this film finishes. But you will have to watch it yourself to see what I mean...

Extras include a comprehensive ‘Making of’; audio commentary by director Kaare Andrews; Behind the Scenes: Green Storm featurette; original concept gallery; and a Trailer.

“Altitude” (2010) has a running time of 86 minutes approx and is out now from Anchor Bay Entertainment. It has a ‘15’ certificate, and an RRP of £15.99 for the DVD and £19.99 for the Blu-ray, or get either for less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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