Synopsis: In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, Into the Storm throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme.
Release Date: August 8, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
In the case of heavy genre films, there are typically two schools of thought. On the one hand, some filmmakers believe that there will always be an audience for things like found footage films, slashers, or parodies. While others feel that once a film gets it so completely right, satisfying all desires of a particular niche group, it’s best to leave that genre untouched. Take the extreme weather sub genre, for example – made popular by the likes of The Day After Tomorrow, Hurricane, and, of course, Twister. Some would argue that those films that got it right are not just exceptions but standard bearers capable of standing the test of time. But don’t tell that to Into the Storm, an extreme weather film so useless and forgettable it can’t even make gigantic tornadoes exciting.
Constructed around one of the most inconsistent found footage concepts in recent memory, Into the Storm follows two disparate stories that coalesce into one super tornado of bland.
There’s the prototypical storm-chasing group that pushes themselves well past the point of safety and ticks all the boxes as far as token disaster movie stereotypes are concerned. This group is traveling the Midwest looking for twisters and as luck and the movie gods would have it they get their wish. However, along the way they bump into Gary (Richard Armitage), a middle-aged father out looking for his son Donnie (Max Deacon) and Donnie’s high school crush, who are caught unaware when the storm hits. In essence, the film follows a group of characters doing exactly what you shouldn’t do in the middle of a storm. Dumb doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The prospect of a found footage film set in the middle of a tornado storm initially reaps intriguing rewards thanks to an opening scene that smartly uses subtle glances and shaky cam. Unfortunately, any good will that the promising prologue might have earned is wasted on a film that is as dull and uninspired as its cast of characters. There’s no denying that many will be drawn to the film by its promise of massive tornado-fueled destruction, and the film has quite a bit of that, but the lynchpin of any memorable disaster film is its cast. If you don’t care about the characters, you end up rooting for the tornado.
Perhaps Into the Storm‘s biggest crime is that it’s boring. Paper-thin characters are easy to overlook in the midst of jaw-dropping destruction, but this film couldn’t even slit my lips. Make no mistake, the film finds half-a-dozen ways to use a tornado, but it doesn’t put forth the effort to make things like a flame-nado or a twister the size of a city block exciting. As a result, the film feels like an endless barrage of same-y looking tornadoes ripping apart generic buildings from distant camera angles; hardly white knuckle material. Even the sound design lacks texture, and instead comes across like you’re trapped inside a nauseating leaf blower.
Into the Storm falls apart almost instantly, proving that a decidedly B-movie attempt at a large-scale disaster movie still needs engaging characters and a worthwhile story to prop up the spectacle. In place of that, the film tries to get by on its existence alone. There’s little effort on display from the effects team, the screenwriting team, the director, or even the cast. Everyone seems to be under the impression that a film with massive tornadoes should be appealing by its very nature. Oh, how wrong they are. It’s best to treat this one like its own mini tornado: batten down the hatches and wait for it to pass you by.
From a strictly effects perspective, the design of Into the Storm‘s destruction is impressive. The film’s sense of awe and spectacle is lost in translation, but it’s hard not to appreciate what the effects team has done here. If there’s one thing you hope that a film about tornadoes gets right it’s the design of the twisters themselves, and Into the Storm at least succeeds in that endeavor. Had the film found more creative ways to use these impressive tornadoes, it might have gotten by with a casual B-movie recommendation. But as it stands, you’re simply looking at inoffensive CGI that rouses little emotion.
Think of every possible sequence that may involve a tornado, and you’ve likely come up with the entirety of Into the Storm‘s action. This film hits all the cliche beats – from characters being pulled into a tornado to objects being pulled into and then thrown out of a tornado. That’s about as good as it gets, and it’s not the least bit thrilling. In fact, most of the action is surprisingly dull and even a little hard to comprehend thanks to the found footage set-up. There are some positive qualities to the action, but where the film should have been a white knuckle thrill ride a la [Insert Any Other Disaster Movie Here], Into the Storm lacks imagination.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Steven Quale
- Screenwriter(s): John Swetnam
- Cast: Sarah Wayne Callies (Allison Stone)Richard Armitage (Gary Morris)Jeremy Sumpter (Jacob) Nathan Kress (Trey)Matt Walsh (Pete)
- Editor(s): Eric A. Sears
- Cinematographer: Brian Pearson
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Brian Tyler
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA