Curiosity definitely pulled me into "Altitude". A Lovecraftian low budget horror film set on small airplane? Sounds ballsy. Count me in. Don't get me wrong, my standards were not set high for this film, but it was intriguing. Thusly, be the time the credits rolled I found myself somewhat in a state of shock. For all of the very many things that could have gone horribly wrong in "Altitude", in essence, it was pretty damn good. Much to my surprise.
Sara (Lowndes) is taking her friends on a trip to see an awesome concert. Her cousin, best friend, best friend's boyfriend, and her sweet heart are going to take a small plane there. With Sara flying. Unfortunately, this flight takes a turn for the worse when they get stuck gaining altitude. Not only does that really suck, but they seem to be flying into a storm that might just be more than a storm. It just might be an evil greater than the imagination.
The initial idea that this film wants to portray is that its a monster film. It really isn't. The majority of the film is spent in tension between these young people as they struggle to comprehend the gravity (no pun intended) of their situation and how they start to crumble under the pressure. That's reason number one that this film is much better than expected. It's about the characters! Low budget horror about the characters? No way! In fact, the acting is pretty solid to help give the film the needed depth and tension that the script focuses on. It's not great all the way around, the characters tend to fall into being cliche's occasionally and the acting follows, but its more than enough all around.
The monster aspect of the film, which is more or less a catalyst for the plot rather than the plot itself, is handled in a very mature and visual way. The CGI for the film is hit or miss (mostly towards the miss with the creature) but the film tends to not focus on that part. Instead using sound and flashes of it create a greater sense of the horror of this thing in the sky. Partnered with the tensity of the situation, its a match made in...hell.
"Altitude" scores some serious surprise points in the good categories, with its focus on tension and characters which overcomes most of its faults, some of its monotony and poor CGI. The twist ending does lack a bit too much in the logic area although it likes to throw an extra curve in there, but overall this Canadian attempt at a smart monster flick succeeds. It keeps to its Lovecraftian roots (truth may lead us to insanity?) and its execution is top notch for its budget. Definitely worth checking out for those looking for a lazy afternoon flick.
Written By Matt Reifschneider