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Altitude (DVD Review)

19 Oct, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 10/26/10
Anchor Bay
$26.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language and a sexual gesture.
Stars Jessica Lowndes, Julianna Guill, Ryan Donowho, Landon Liboiron, Jake Weary.

Ever wonder what would happen if you crammed the young, oversexed cast of a typical horror film into a small dual-propeller airplane engulfed in mysterious black storm clouds at 20,000 feet?

That’s the scenario in Altitude that Canadian comic book artist and first-time helmer Kaare Andrews places five college-age friends/stereotypes en route to a Coldplay concert in Montreal.

There’s smart newbie pilot Sara (well-cast Jessica Lowndes from TV’s “90210”), her fearful-flying boyfriend Bruce (Landon Liboiron), sexy friend Mel (Julianna Guill from Friday the 13th), her compassion-challenged boy toy Sal (Jake Weary from Fred: The Movie) and requisite guitar-toting/sensitive friend Cory (Ryan Donowho).

Whereas most victim movies feature the doomed foolishly wandering into the woods alone, the bathroom down a long hallway or engaging in inopportune frisky behavior, Altitude cleverly keeps all parties in arms-length claustrophobia as things begin to go horribly wrong.

That a bolt would break free jamming the elevator wing and force the plane into an uncontrolled climb is foreshowed early in the movie’s opening retro scenes. Sara’s mom is seen flying a family of three in a single-engine plane that is suddenly clipped by another plane, hurdling the passengers to their deaths, with exception of the young child, who — surprise — is Bruce, Sara’s current tense passenger and avowed fan of, yes, “Weird Tales” classic comic books.

All bizarre coincidences aside, it goes without saying that Sara and Co. have bigger issues to deal with than a stuck wing flap. Airport scenes, panoramic airborne shots and actress Lowndes’ reported pre-shoot flying classes at Santa Monica Airport lend authenticity to a movie that is entertaining despite bouts of fantastic implausibility and low-budget special effects.

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