Director: Kaare Andrews
Stars: Jessica Lowndes, Julianna Gull, Ryan Donowho
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Very rarely do I come across a horror movie that I know nothing about, so when it happens I’m usually excited. Surprises in fright flicks are a rarity when you’re as big a horrorhead as I am. Now take that surprise and double it when you factor in the very cool poster/Blu-ray cover of a guy hanging out of a small airplane with a couple of huge tentacles reaching out to grab him. As a rabid fan of H. P. Lovecraft the mind reels with the possibilities such an image could mean. So with high expectations I tore into this new movie. Is this movie the rare hidden gem that should be seen by all, or another of the direct to DVD low budget schlock flicks best left to die in obscurity? Let’s find out.
The movie starts off with a small family flying in a small airplane being piloted by a young woman. After a horrific midair collision with another small plane things jump ahead some years and now that dead pilot’s daughter is a young woman and about to fly four of her friends in her small plane to a concert. One of the passengers is a very strange young man who has a bit of a stalker-like fixation on the pretty pilot. A short time after takeoff the plan tries to fly over a thunderstorm, only to suffer a mechanical failure that causes them to continuously ascend into a rolling mass of black clouds that seem to appear out of nowhere. The pilot and passengers have to figure out a way to fix their plane, which involves some outside the speeding aircraft exploits. It is while they are attempting that bit of daring do that they first notice the huge tentacled thing flying in the black clouds next to them.
Soon everyone starts to freak out and for good reason. One passenger is quickly killed, another is a hulking bully, there’s the strange stalker wannabe boyfriend, the pilot with mommy issues, and the fact that after the plane is fixed and they’ve been descending for twenty minuets they have yet to see the ground. Oh yeah, can’t forget the cousin to Cthulhu that seems to be following them. What is the alien creature, where did it come from, and what does it want with the little plane? Sadly, that’s where this film starts to stall out.
Up until the explanations started flying, Altitude was a pretty solid fright film. The acting was better than most independent horror films I’ve seen, even if a few of the characters were one note clichés. The creature was used sparingly and to good effect, also it looked pretty darn cool. The mystery of just what the hell was happening was maintained well. It is only when the answers to all the weirdness start coming that I lost interest and that’s never a good thing. It’s not that the answers were necessarily bad, only that I had seen similar explanations before and have seen them pulled off better. Does that ruin the film? No, but it was a disappointment for sure.
The Blu-ray by Anchor Bay offers a great, crystal clear picture and a few noteworthy special features. There’s a director’s commentary, a couple of brief featurettes, a behind the scenes documentary, and a gallery of concept art. Yeah, nothing to jump up and down about, special feature wise, but not a bare bones disc either. In that way the disc matches the movie on it.
Altitude is not a bad movie, but neither is it outstanding in any way. Perfectly enjoyable in a workmanlike way, I can recommend it to fans of the weird, those who love Lovecraft and would like to see a movie with shades of Cthulhu-ish goodness, or anyone who just want to see something a little different. But if you miss this flight then you won’t have missed much. Consider this a mild recommendation.