Review: Altitude DVD

STUDIO: Anchor Bay | DIRECTOR: Kaare Andrews | CAST: Jessica Lowndes, Ryan Donowho, Julianna Guill, Landon Liboiron, Jack Weary
RELEASE DATE: 10/26/10 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $34.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes, original concepts gallery
SPECS: R | 90 min. | Thriller | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Altitude is the latest single-location thriller to arrive in the wake of such white knucklers as Open Water and Frozen. Where those two were set in a patch of shark-infested Caribbean sea and on a ski chairlift dangling over a icy mountain, respectively, Altitude places its story primarily in the cramped confines of a small airplane soaring through the sky at 12,000 feet.

It’s an initially interesting premise: Five friends heading to a concert eschew driving and instead hop on a chartered plane flown by the newly licensed Sara (Jessica Lowndes of TV’s 90210). The members of the quintet are alternately funny, horny, obnoxious, troubled, nervous and boring, but their character types are nothing compared to the trouble that envelopes them when they fly into a dark storm and find themselves lost in the clouds without any working navigational controls. And that’s when the tentacled monster makes its first appearance…

Though the movie takes place in a tight setting, writer/director Kaare Andrews attempts to bite off quite a lot in this independent film . Unfortunately, the supernatural aspects of the lost plane don’t wholly jibe with the very physical dangers of the apparent monster menacing the aircraft and the turbulent (and highly unbelievable) effects of opening the cabin door and attempting to fix the plane’s tail fin. Like other real-time thrillers of this ilk, Altitude has peaks and valleys of tension throughout, and first-time feature helmer Andrews generally keeps her story moving. But the Twilight Zone-esque ending doesn’t wholly deliver on the menace that we’ve experienced during the previous 80 minutes.

Of the DVD’s special features, we got the biggest kick out of the “Green Storm” featurette, which reveals how nearly half the film was shot in a studio with green screen backgrounds, with airborne flight visuals and monster effects added in later. So much for shooting on location 12,000 feet in the sky!


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.