Some reviews floating around are likening this tornado-obsessed film to Sharknado without the sharks, but all that seems a bit sensational when you actually sit down and watch through Steven Quale’s Into The Storm. While the acting is only a couple of notches above that in the shark-infested storm parody, there’s a semblance of a proper story here, and given how dumb the overall film really is, that’s enough to disconnect it from any stretched out Sharknado comparisons.
A better likening would be to call the film an even more overblown version of B-Grade classic Twister, but at least that movie had Phillip Seymour-Hoffman; Into The Storm has no characters which are even mildly interesting – you’re even forgiven if you forget their names as the movie crawls towards the end. What saves the movie here – and it would be foolish to expect anything more – is the behind-the-scenes team giving it their all in the scenes that really matter, the special-effect heavy action sequences which effectively draw on enough tension to make up for the cast. Disaster movies are embraced because of the ominous wind which blows in the inevitable carnage, and in considering this, Into The Storm fairs reasonably well. The explosion of visual effects that are strewn across the screen during the escalating series of storms is both ridiculous and terrifyingly awesome, playing with the same sense of urgency which all great disaster films portray.
While the movie frustratingly ducks in and out of perspectives (either commit to a found-footage style or don’t!) the first half builds towards a high school graduation where an entire town can be pushed together to give the nearby storm chasers something to actually care about, aside from their potential Tornado shots. Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies of The Walking Dead fame) is mostly expressionless as the moral compass and brains of the storm chaser group, attempting to drive one half of plot while Gary (Richard Armitage) – Silverton High’s vice principal and father of two – steers the other, tasking his two sons (Max Deacon’s Donnie and Nathan Kress’ Trey) with making time capsule videos, sending them off to further the handheld-camera aspect of the direction.
Donnie finds an excuse to try his luck with his crush, Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam Carey), in a desserted paper mill fairly far from the graduation ceremony, setting up the “I need to rescue my son!” trope which is threaded through the majority of the film. Meanwhile, Allison drives around with her team, which includes myopic boss Pete (Matt Walsh), doing what storm chasers do until they all of the sudden realise that these things are pretty dangerous and that they should probably spend their time having some direct influence over the lives of those at the high school.
Perhaps the most annoying thing about this film is the ill advised introduction of redneck daredevils who want to be YouTube stars. It’s a cheap shot at comedy – where every single attempt at humour fails miserably – and shifts things towards Sharknado idiocy, begging you to follow the film just so you can see these terribly obnoxious fools get shut up by a hungry tornado.
The tornados themselves are pretty impressive for the first few storms, up until the point where they just become ridiculous, with an attempt to one-up the previous tornado leading to something which is so ridiculously massive that the only thing that can ground the film is a mildly touching form of self-sacrifice.
Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Into The Storm is currently screening in cinemas across Australia