Years after Saras mother died in a midair collision involving her light aircraft, Sara herself has recently earned her own pilots license, and plans to fly herself and some friends in a small plane to see a concert. While one of her friends, Bruce, is at the controls, a brief bout of turbulence causes him to lose control, taking the plane into a steep climb into the clouds.
Now out of radio contact, disoriented by the clouds, and starting to run low on fuel, the four friends must figure out how to get down safely before the giant tentacle monster kills them all.
This film contains the following tropes:
- Ambiguous Disorder: There are more odd things about Bruce than can really be explained by childhood tragedy. He even flat out says he's really messed up.
- Darkness Equals Death: Hello, impenetrable wall of storm clouds...
- Dark World: In the clouds, and there are unpleasant things living in it.
- Deadly Road Trip: A variation, in that the "road" trip is by plane.
- Eldritch Location: After hours of flying around and descending with no ground or any other landmark features in sight and no radio contact with anyone, it becomes clear that the characters have entered some alternate dimension filled with endless sky and housing giant alien terrors flying around looking for prey. It turns out to be because its Bruce's fantasy world.
- Eldritch Abomination: The giant tentacle monster that lives in the clouds is a terrifying creature from another dimension and periodically shows up to eat one of the helpless main characters.
- Expy: Sara channels her inner Ellen Ripley when she takes control of her flight and asks her arguing passengers: "Is that acceptable to you?", a line very similar to what Ripley asks her arguing crew in Alien after all hell has broken loose.
- The boy in the open is into horror comics, just like Bruce.
- The overt supernatural stuff doesn't happen until Sal upsets Bruce, namely vandalizing his comicbook, and had a scare involving the plane. Bruce is the one causing it, and attention is drawn to him several times right before something supernatural happens.
- Looking closely, the plane that hits Bruce and Sara's plane is the same one as the one the heroes are in. Later in the film, Sara and Bruce also discuss the crash and it's mentioned the plane didn't seem to exist before the crash. This is because it didn't: Bruce reality warped their plane back in time.
- Giant Flyer: The tentacle monster is building-sized.
- Hell Is That Noise: After the characters have been flying through the storm for a while, and it doesn't seem to end, and their altimeter says they should be in the stratosphere... all they can hear on the radio is this horrible screaming sound.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Corey dies after successfully unjamming the tail rudders and saving everyone. At the conclusion, Sara and Bruce sacrifice themselves to save their parents, thus allowing their past selves to have happier lives.
- Jerk Jock: Sal.
- Jerkass Has a Point: As Sal pointed out, where exactly was the ground?
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: It turns out that Bruce is inadvertently causing all this, unconsciously summoning the tentacle monster from his comic book into reality. With Sara's help he eventually learns to control his fear and summon them back to their own reality. He also sends them back in time, making them the plane that killed their parents, but manages to change it at the last minute.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Bruce realizes his powers have made them the plane that killed his and Sara's parents, and averts the crash at the last minute.
- Shown Their Work:
- The tentacle monster is based on a mythological creature called an atmospheric beast, currently lumped in the same cryptozoology category as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
- Much of what Sara does is what an actual pilot would do. The only time she breaks from it is once the crazy supernatural stuff starts.
- Stable Time Loop: Subverted. In the opening a mysterious plane that appears out of nowhere crashes into Sara and Bruce's plane when they are kids and kills both their parents. In the present day it's revealed that the plane was in fact the one Sara and Bruce are currently piloting. In the conclusion of the film they enter a temporal vortex but manage to avert another crash while killing themselves, allowing their child selves to live with their parents alive.
- Twenty Minutes with Jerks: And what an illustrative selection of jerks they are!