Altitude is kind of a fascinatingly awful mess, a film that trots along like a below average "Outer Limits" episode. "The Outer Limits" is that show, you may recall, that was a lot like "The Twilight Zone" without any of the cleverness, subtlety or charm.
Brought to us from Anchor Bay (most of the previews on the DVD consisted of blue-tinted pretty young things getting murdered and raped) and director Kaare Andrews (notable previous accomplishment: Sleeping Booty), Altitude brings together a number of horror film standbys in one high-concept but lowbrow package. It's a film from the "style over whatever the hell that other thing is called" school of filmmaking, where all teenagers are played by actors in their mid-twenties and horny as fuck
Sara is an angry young woman, since she's wearing black and has a hood on for the first five minutes of the movie until another screenwriter apparently jumped in. Her mother was a pilot and killed in a plane crash when she was younger, and this is traumatizing enough for Sara to decide to get her pilot's license and go on a trip herself.
Coming along for the ride are her boyfriend, her best friend, her best friend's boyfriend, and her cousin all on a 90 minute plane ride. I'd give you their names but I'm not sure that's necessary. The rule of the slaughter must be observed, and despite a lot of plotting, none of the characters really deserve a name beyond "Victim Number __".
That's not to say they don't have idiotic gimmicks!
- Sara's best friend owns a video camera and videos most of the proceedings. There's really no rationale for this, and, for a full fledged video camera from 2010, all of the shots we see from it look worse than any given webcam I've seen in my life. This is given no payoff.
- Sara's best friend's boyfriend, who is the funniest character simply because his character trait is 'the jerk' and he spends most of his screen time drinking beers and calling female members of the cast 'sweet cheeks'. He is primarily a writer's gimmick more than anything, which at least makes him interesting to observe. Still, for all of the dick things he does and does not do on purpose, none of it has any payoff.
- Sara's cousin, who's in a band and painfully has a crush on the best friend. This tepid little love triangle is here to get this motherfucker to ninety minutes. This is given no payoff.
- Sara's boyfriend, who ends up figuring quite a bit into the plot considering he doesn't talk for the middle forty minutes of the movie, has those terrifying Robert Pattinson eyebrows that look like they were ripped off someone nearby and hastily pasted on. The eyebrows do not significantly figure into the plot of the movie, but I'm sure that that wasn't for lack of trying considering all the other stupid crap that's handed to this dweeb.
After takeoff (which included the least convincing line reading of "Let's just go and have some fun!" I've ever heard), a mechanical error causes their plane to start to continuously climb in altitude. This simple concept, of five people trying to sort out what to do and how to settle their lives with such a simple premise reminds me of something like yesterday's Exam: a quick, simple thoroughfare that could cleverly bring up ideas about a facet of the way we live our lives.
Altitude, sadly, is not concerned with much more than the standard Anchor Bay formula (this film is blue-tinted, hint hint). You could cut off the first 85 minutes of the film and release it as a short without missing a single goddamn thing.
Not that that film would still end up as anything worth watching. The film keeps spiraling into its own stupidity, deciding that it's better to start running towards incoherent Stephen King malarkey than to do anything with its original premise, and even the King malarkey is poorly handled. I'm talking TV version of The Shining levels of quality here.
I wish that they'd taken the craziness and done something with it. The madness that pops up in act three never feels like anything more than the writers running out of ideas: "Shit, how do we end this movie?" "Space monsters! From a comic book!" The end scene is so pat, so damn cheesy that it's mind boggling.
So, don't watch Altitude. Nothing interesting is said or done, no one learns any valuable lessons, and we all go home unhappy and miserable. Thanks, movie.