Some years ago a light aircraft was being flown with a family onboard, but their little boy was uneasy about his presence there, not enjoying the flight at all thanks to the turbulence they were enduring. None of them could have forseen the aircraft breaking up and sending passengers and pilot plummeting to the ground, however, and the cause of the accident is something that has never been cleared up. The daughter of that pilot was Sara (Jessica Lowndes), and when she grew up she followed in her mother's footsteps to take to the skies - but just how closely she was following she did not realise...
Do you hanker after the golden age of the television movie, the nineteen-seventies, where you could watch various guest stars placed in peril for ninety minutes without so much thought? And were the horror themed ones your favourites? If so, go and seek out The Horror at 37,000 Feet and ignore Altitude, which was the most obvious following on from that style of fantasy adventure story. If, however, you want to see something you can watch most of with your eyes closed because if you should try to engage with it on any sensible level you'll become mightily irritated, then Altitude was the ideal entertainment for you.
It's about fifteen minutes until the Sara's plane actually takes off, and that's about a fifth of the running time, but you soon find out why: most of the rest of the movie took place in the cramped confines of the cabin, an attempt to make things claustrophobic that in practice rendered them monotonous. The five characters who were on board were strictly of the type you would expect to see in a typical low budget horror of this era: the capable final girl, the smarmy jock, the nerd, the disposable but attractive girl who fills the "Eek! What's going on?" quotient of the dialogue, that sort of thing, and the cast could find no way of making this lot at all interesting.
Indeed, after ten minutes of the hackneyed lines they were duty bound to deliver any reasonable viewer would be itching to know when they were going to start dying off, and hoping it was soon. Should you be of the hardier variety of moviewatcher and didn't wisely turn off the film at this point, then you would quickly realise it wasn't going to get any better, with insultingly silly twists (including one character hanging out of the plane by a rope to get one of the flaps to work) and a resolution that must have seemed like a good idea for an out of left field surprise, but in effect makes you ponder on how you've wasted almost an hour and a half to reach it, and it doesn't even wrap itself up properly. Not to mention depicting a serious case of passive aggression. Still, there is a Cthulu-style monster in the sky that indicates a better way of handling this than what was settled on, but for most people Altitude will be tedium incarnate. Music by Jeff Tymoschuk.
[Anchor Bay's Region 2 DVD has a couple of featurettes and a trailer as extras.]