After losing her Pilot mother at a young age, due to a plane crash, a teenage Sara, much to the chagrin of her father, has followed in her footsteps and has received her Pilot License. Fresh after receiving the licenses, she tells her old man that She, her cousin Cory, boyfriend Bruce, friend Mel, and her obnoxious jock boyfriend Sal, are all loading up in the car to go see Coldplay in concert. The concert part is correct, it's just the car part that isn't. Instead of going in the car, Sara rents a small plan as their chosen means of transportation. The five of them board the plan, and expect nothing short of good times, but predictably, things do eventually go awry for them. Unfortunately for the young Pilot, components on the plane begin to fail, as the problems seem to get increasingly worse as they happen. With a jammed elevator at the rear of the aircraft, the five youth plunge head on into a dark storm. As they travel further and further into the menacing storm, to their shock they come head-to-head with a tentacled creature, seemingly from another planet. As tensions continue to mount amongst one another, and their surroundings becoming more, and more dangerous, the group's chances for survival are looking very slim.
With Altitude, I didn't quite know what kind of film to expect, but by the looks of the film's trailer, I knew it could be something with some potential. Well, as fate would have it, my initial assumption was fortunately correct. ALTITUDE is a bit of an ambitious film, shot on a relatively low budget, most of the film was in fact shot solely in a small plane cabin. The actors are never really airborne, but with the way it was shot, accompanied with great affects, the filmmakers have us believing that the film's action is taking place in the air. You would think that a film that rarely leaves one location(in this case being a plane), can grow quite boring over time, but I have to give credit to ALTITUDE, because the action and atmosphere that it brings really kept me on the edge of my seat, nearly the entire 90 minutes.
For about the first half hour or so, ALTITUDE seems as if it will tread familiar roads as far as being a survivalist thriller, and to aid in that, we have our characters facing the typical downfalls. We have things such as the plane's equipment failing, temperatures flaring, people becoming unstable, and there's even a budding love triangle at one point. Just when you think ALTITUDE as of the "by the numbers" brand, the script throws something cool and unexpected at us. As our five characters ascend into darkness and their panic increases they come head to head with something supernatural, something i'd call an "air serpent." Armed with a set of tentacles, this creature, whatever it may be, has it's mind set on bringing the plane down. ALTITUDE is a tense little indie thriller about a group of friends' fight to survive, but it is also one that begs you to think, as it relies on heavy supernatural/alternative reality elements especially near the film's final act. The film's ending is left rather ambiguous and open-ended, presumably for us the audience to have the freedom to draw our own conclusion(s). If I had to compare the nature of the plot, I would have to say that ALTITUDE is like a mash-up of DONNIE DARKO, THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, and THE FINAL DESTINATION. Although those three aforementioned films, have twice the budget that ALTITUDE had, i'd venture as far to say that this film could stand with all of them.
As I said, a big reason this film works so well is it's effects. I'll be honest with you, when I went into this film, I expected some low budget Sci-Fi "festival" films, one of those films that plays at a ton of festivals, receiving many rave reviews, yet when you see it yourself, it's really lackluster. This isn't the case here, as the film's Director Kaare Andrews, really carefully crafted each and every stunt. Andrews, who normally works as a comic book artist for the likes of Marvel, laid out each scene via comic-like storyboards, which made it easier for the effects to by laid down. Despite the lower budget, the effects in this film, really do look great - believe me, i'd likely be among the first ones to complain if bad effects compromised the integrity of the overall film.
Some people have already criticized the film's acting, but i'd have to disagree with those who say that it is bad. Seeing as Jessica Lowndes had top billing, and also was playing a pilot, I was a bit skeptical. I have seen her once or twice on 90210, and frankly I wasn't too impressed. Sure she is an attractive girl, but unfortunately, 90210, just doesn't allow her to truly act. To me, a show like that is pretty basic stuff, she never is required to act with any amount of far, etc. After seeing her in ALTITUDE, I have to give it to her, not only does she do well portraying s pilot, we actually believe her. As for the other actors, they do their best with what they're given, but structure-wise, they are pretty much stereotypical, yet at some point we care for some and hate the others.
Overall, I thought this was a well made indie thriller that had both top-notch action and suspense. The film's ending threw me off a little at first, but after seeing it a few times, I realized what the filmmakers were doing for(at least I think I know what they were going for).
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said, going into ALTITUDE, I didn't know what to expect, but it is a small film, that packs huge supernatural fun and excitement. Sure some of what it gives us requires a stretch of the imagination on our part, but hey, it's a supernatural film, not everything has to make perfect sense. Not only is ALTITUDE well executed, it is also a film that had months of hard work poured into it to make it what it is, people will have their reasons to either like or hate ALTITUDE, but as for me personally, I really enjoyed it.
Special Features include
- Audio commentary with director Kaare Andrews
- Altitude: Behind the Scenes
- Featurette: Green Storm
- Original concepts gallery
This Blu-Ray/DVD will be released September 28, 2010