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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Altitude (2010) review


Jessica Lowndes (Sara), Landon Liboiron (Bruce), Julianna Guill (Mel), Ryan Donowho (Cory), Jake Weary (Sal)

Directed by Kaare Andrews

The Short Version: A group of overbearingly obnoxious teens fly the unfriendly skies to see a concert, but end up trapped in some sort of fifth dimension a la THE TWILIGHT ZONE where a gigantic tentacled beastie awaits them. Where have all the good movies gone? It's all confusing, uninvolving and centered around an embittered teen whose horror comic comes to life manifested through his fear. Viewers should try Priceline to get a better flight.

Sara, eager to fly solo after getting her aviation license, opts to fly her friends to a Coldplay rock concert, but runs into a nasty storm that seems to be pulling them ever skyward deeper into the encroaching black clouds. It soon becomes apparent that something not of this Earth is lurking above the clouds and drawing the plane closer to it.

Veering dangerously close to 'The Dis List', it's movies like this that reaffirm my lack of faith in modern horror. Either an over-reliance on fast cutting, a lack of a story, or absolutely no one among the cast to feel any kind of connection to. ALTITUDE falls into a couple of those categories. For whatever reason, horror movies today seem content on making EVERYONE in the cast among the most unlikable scum on the planet. The ones written to be even remotely pitiable, or worthy of sympathy are overpowered by the cartoonishly grim antagonists; their characters are lazily built out of the torment perpetrated on them as opposed to building them naturally. ALTITUDE is one such production.

The movie is an overlong 90 minutes bearing a script that would be far better suited to an anthology format than full length feature; It's AMAZING STORIES without one likable individual. The characters are so hateful and annoying, you're likely to either hit the fast forward button, or shut off the movie altogether. Towards the end, those who manage to maintain their concentration will find that the EC comics styled 'Weird Stories' one of the characters carries with him has manifested itself into reality and this dwindling group of young people assimilates what's on the four panel pages found in the comic book.

The ending is definitely of the TWILIGHT ZONE/AMAZING STORIES school of paying penance and being granted a second chance at life. It probably leans more towards the latter than the former as Serling's series was more often preoccupied with poetic justice (but not always). If you're familiar with TZ, portions of the film may recall the episodes 'Nightmare At 20,000 Feet' and 'Odyssey of Flight 33'. With the feel good ending, the late blooming monster angle and the overall gloomy atmosphere of the middle portion, it's an odd mixture that doesn't really gel well together. The score is quite good, though.

Some of the effects are nice to look at such as the black coal colored sky during the storm when the plane has been caught in some kind of supernatural grip by an otherworldy force. The bulk of the movie takes place in the single location, so that in itself will likely put some viewers off. The story is interesting, if only it had been populated by individuals the audience could get behind. Instead, we get arrogant and belligerent teen models for Abercrombie and Fitch shouting and intimidating one another. With so little to recommend it, you're likely to run into severe turbulence when gaining ALTITUDE.

This review is representative of the Anchor Bay DVD


Matt-suzaka said...

I'm a big character guy, so if the characters are garbage, I find it a major turn off. I may still check this one out at some point only because it did look like it had some promise, but my expectations have certainly been grounded after reading your thoughts. Thanks for the warning!

venoms5 said...

I'd rent it, Matt. That's what I did then if you don't like it, you're only out a couple bucks. Anchor Bay seems to be more consistent in putting out movies that, even if they're not worth buying, they're worth a rental, unlike say Lionsgate who are really hit and miss.

Maynard Morrissey said...

one of this year's biggest disappointments. The trailer looked sooooo promising but sadly the film itself is just stupid

venoms5 said...

It's one of those movies I kept hearing about all year, but no one would really say much about the film itself. Now after finally seeing, there isn't much to tell.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Their first mistake was going to a Coldplay concert. They were in for disaster one way or another.

A big 'meh' from me, it would have to arbitrarily land in my Netflix que for me to check it out. Just not interested.

venoms5 said...

I only rented it because I heard some positive things about it. If the characters had been a little more interesting and less vicious, it would no doubt have been more tolerable. That one jock character, man, I wanted to reach through the TV and toss him out the plane. His character alone almost made me shut the damn movie off.

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