The disaster movie is a genre that requires no great plot and usually delivers its ultimate objective to its audience. Plenty of explosions and devastation with some decent characters that we can attach ourselves to as they barely escape certain death. Some side characters perish along the way and maybe the main characters are likable enough that we want them to survive to the end. Our latest tornado adventure doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
The film Into the Storm, directed by Steven Quale, is set in a small town called Silverton. The local high school is having a graduation and several junior year students have been assigned a project to film interviews of townspeople and fellow students for a time capsule. A day that just so happens to coincide with a major unexpected storm. Two of these students are brothers whose father happens to be the Vice Principal, played by Richard Armitage. You may not recognize him without his beard and long hair, but he is more well known as the stoic Thorin Oakenshield in the Hobbit movies. In this movie he shows that same stern demeanor towards his sons which causes the usual family tension we expect to be resolved later on. On the other side of this movie is a group of storm chasers documenting their exploits as they search desperately for that one big tornado that puts them on the map. Sarah Wayne Callies plays Allison, an assistant meteorologist in charge of locating the tornadoes. When her instincts lead her group, led by Pete (Matt Walsh), into Silverton, the real action begins.
The majority of this movie is shot in POV style, or found footage format. Everybody seems to have a camera for some reasonable explanation; and Pete the ambitious storm chaser promises fame and fortune for any amateur footage he can get his hands on. When the tornadoes start rolling in, we are right there in the line of sight; which adds to the excitement. Trees and power lines are ripped out of the ground and thrown about. There is a real sense of danger as simple objects such as cars and branches are shot towards the camera like bullets. The biggest adrenaline rush is wondering what our characters will finally come up with to avoid being swallowed up in the oncoming windstorm. None of this is really unique story-wise besides the first person perspective, but the movie does keep the pace going so they bounce from one impending disaster to the next.
One can’t possibly review a tornado-themed move without referencing the 1996 movie Twister, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and co-written by Michael Crichton. The characters in that one were definitely more memorable and the wind-damaged graphics don’t seem to have improved greatly from then to now, but what both movies share is some great action sequences. The pivotal piece of any disaster flick. Whether you are invested in our characters’ fate until the very end is incidental as long as someone is left to film the moment for us to watch. The two movies also provide that one great tornado scene at the end and you can decide who executed it better. Into the Storm might just win this one since it had more things in its path to throw in the air.
The movie does have some humor to it which lightens the tension somewhat, including two characters named Donk and Reevis who spend their time filming themselves doing risky, idiotic daredevil stunts in order to get YouTube hits. They aren’t at all important to the story except to provide laughs and additional found footage for us to enjoy the destruction. Otherwise we are mostly left sitting on the edge of our seats wondering who might get taken out next.
I found Into The Storm to be a fun ride with great action and some decent characters, but the story is lacking. Of course a strong story isn’t something it really needs. It delivers where it counts and if you want an entertaining and windy adventure, you have it right here. It’s sleek execution in destroying this town is what gives this movie a leg up on other similar direct-to-video options. I would recommend seeing it with a great surround sound; and maybe, when it does finally make its way to home video, having a very big fan turned on and aimed at your face to get the full experience of what you’re watching.
Into The Storm:[usr 3.5]
About: INTO THE STORM
Synopsis: Storm trackers, thrill-seekers, and everyday townspeople document an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes touching down in the town of Silverton.
Directors: Steven Quale
Writers: John Swetnam
Stars: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Alycia Debnam Carey, Arlen Escarpeta, Lee Whittaker, Kyle Davis, Jon Reep, Scott Lawrence
Runtime: 89 Minutes
August 8th, 2014