Take a Drink: every time the documentary team tries to sound like professionals
Take a Drink: every time you see a tornado
Take a Drink: every time you hear a warning siren
Take a Drink: every time you wonder why someone’s still holding a camera
Take a Drink: every time you wonder how that camera’s still working
And if you really wanna get drunk,
Take a Drink: every time you see something destroyed
By: StarvinMarvinMcFly (Four Beers) –
A couple months ago I posted a review of Twister, a minor 90’s disaster movie classic. Upon rewatch, it made me realize how movies about weather are just that – about weather. It’s kind of a dry subject. Weather happens, sometimes it sucks, and when it gets bad it can be deadly. We know. So to make it more palatable, screenwriters try to inject some human interest into the stories (when the disaster isn’t big enough to threaten the whole world, of course). In Twister it was a new divorce that refuses to take hold due to a mutual love for chasing tornadoes. In Day After Tomorrow it was a distant dad’s quest for his son*, among other things. Deep Impact threatened the whole world, but predicated on the fallout of if you and everyone else knew the world would end ahead of time. So on and so forth. Movies like these really come down to if the actors can be somewhat decent and the human filler not too lame.
Up front, Into the Storm has a lot of incredibly eye rolling stuff in it. Everything fits a cliché. Nothing is genuine or really earned. The found footage device is pretty random and seems like it was just done to capitalize on a waning fad. It has a lot of stupidity, in almost every scene. But it also almost makes up for it with cool tornado stuff, which once it gets rolling comes hot and heavy and not without a dose of funny (whether intentional or not) action and character beats. It’s a B-movie in every sense of the word, which all told makes for a pretty fun way to kill an afternoon.
The trailer sold us on tornadoes, so were there tornadoes? Oh yes, and how. There’s a lot here to like in terms of eye candy destruction. This is entrenched firmly in B-movie territory, which means the disaster is the star, and the money shots alone are well worth your time as houses get torn up, flames get sucked up and airplanes get thrown around nilly willy. The sound effects are also top notch, so you really get placed front and center to some pretty astounding stuff going on onscreen.
Everything else is paper thin, and I mean thin. A lot of it has been done before, and better. The above asterisk in the intro is there because a plot thread in this is ripped from that exact arc in Day After Tomorrow. There’s also a flying cow statue in a nod to Twister but I think they also took a music cue wholesale from it as well. Plus, the science jargon that Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead fame spouts is pretty much the same complicated nonsense used in the countless other disaster movies about weather. There’s not much originality here at all.
The characterization is only to connect the scenes of mayhem that are actually pretty well put together, thanks to a found footage format that, while feeling tacked on, is actually much better handled than a lot of other shaky handheld dreck. They cut to an objective third person camera enough to give them credit for it – daily PSA: found footage should be used as a device, period; the mistake was when Blair Witch had its success and producers thought that was a cue for found footage movies to be done only using that format, which never seems believable save for a few choice and now redundant scenarios – but how would you keep filming in as severe storms as these are? There is no visible protection on these cameras, but they work remarkably well in the middle of a driving rainstorm with debris whipping all over the place and 200+ mile winds ravaging everything. A better question than how is why? Oh right, the obsessive and borderline mad documentarian (Matt Walsh, easily the best part of the movie because he realizes how ridiculous it all is) hellbent on capturing all angles of a tornado on video. Gotcha.
The funniest (read: most laughable that they would think it was funny) part of the movie is the broad characterization, namely the redneck, beer-guzzling wannabe Youtube stars played by Jon Reep and Kyle Davis. These guys are so stereotypically dumb it made my brain hurt watching them leap cheaply rigged backyard swimming pools of fire and stand outside less than 100 feet from a tornado. We gotta give our race a little more credit than that, right? I guess in Silverton, the hilariously named town from the film, there’s as dumb as they come. And not just the rednecks either – the school principal refuses to postpone graduation because there will be no room inside. Did you see the size of the graduation that happened and then compare it the size of the school that eventually gets smushed by a thumb of God? Obviously the screenwriter didn’t. They could have fit their graduating class in there times 12. But again, we’re dealing with a movie that has one of the characters braving a fire-nado to get his footage. Clearly these people have never dealt with these things before. Clearly.
This is a pretty impressively bad movie. It’s got some crazy scenes of destruction, a laughable excuse for a connecting plot and characters, and some awesomely bad scenes in general. Why wasn’t this rated R so we could have had some cool deaths too? Then it would’ve been guilty pleasure perfection. Wait ‘til DVD and then see it with a good surround sound and some brews and have a blast.