Into The Storm (2014)

Into The Storm (2014)

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Just a normal week at the airport.
Just a normal week at the airport.

Twitter Plot Summary: A MASSIVE storm hits a small American town, and they have to try and survive the weather onslaught.

Five Point Summary:

1. Slow start…
2. Graduation: ruined.
3. Why are you all running around filming this?
4. Fire twister!
5. Escalation. Big weather.

Extreme weather has long been a particular favourite sub-genre of the disaster movie for low budget film studios, but on occasion we do get the odd film that has a much larger budget doing exactly the same thing. Such as it is with Into The Storm, where a freak storm front kicks in over small town America and a small group of central characters have to use all of the resources at their disposal in order to survive it. Among these characters are Richard Armitage’s deputy headteacher from the local high school, his two slightly irritating sons who are conveniently filming excerpts for their school project time capsules, and a team of tornado hunters featuring Sarah Wayne Callies (her off’ve Prison Break) and a surprisingly serious turn from Matt Walsh.

The biggest strike against it is that it’s all purportedly filmed by those experiencing the action. The “found footage” format is one that can work if presented in a clever manner, which this sadly isn’t. Are we genuinely supposed to believe that these people are intent on filming everything despite being in mortal peril? That’s perhaps a silly question in this day and age, but it does take you out of the film. If it’s all found footage, how did they recover the clips from the vehicle thrown into the sky by the giant twister? In that respect, it would have benefited from mixing the footage with some traditional film making, which would have made the scenes of destruction all the more powerful, and for that miles-high vehicle-in-twister scene to make a whole lot more sense. As it is, your sense of disbelief is frequently thrown out of the window as if the tornado was having a direct impact on the script itself.

The characters are vaguely drawn but they do at least have some depth that makes us root for them as the situation grows more and more extreme. Thankfully it manages to avoid the whole “obligatory romance” angle that you would usually get when you find out that two of the characters are single parents. There’s some conflict and ideological differences, but the main aim is just to survive. These aren’t even characters who are trying to do something to stop the onslaught – it’s far beyond their capabilities and marks this apart from SyFy TV movie territory where everyone and their dog is capable of telling the weather to jog on.

Obligatory "stare at something offscreen" shot.
Obligatory “stare at something offscreen” shot.

With all of that said it still remains an extremely exciting and thrilling disaster movie, the gradual escalation of the weather front mixed with the impact it has on the town of Silverton helps paper over any concerns you may have about the drab characterisation and the lack of solid story. It boils down to a lot of people running from A to B whilst being stalked by an increasingly more destructive natural force. Are there hints of subtext at play here? Most likely, but given that the main cast are all white and, the school headmaster aside, there’s nary an ethnic face to be seen, you do find yourself wondering if this was a deliberate effort given the destruction wrought following the likes of Hurricane Katrina.

At least the CGI is impressive, and adds to the tension, as does the very minimal use of music throughout. It would have been nice to have a bit more development in terms of characterisation and more creativity in terms of the script, but otherwise it’s a solid film that will either have you gripped or reaching for the remote to switch it off, depending on your attitude towards natural disaster movies.

Score: 3/5

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