Saturday, 6 September 2014

Film Review: Into the Storm

Prepare to be blown away - or at least, knocked off balance by a slight breeze. This is Into the Storm, a disaster movie from director Steven Quale. It's like Twister, but with less airborne bovine activity.

Set over the course of one day, Into the Storm sees the small American town of Stapleton thrust into the centre of a gigantic storm, from swirling twisters to golf-ball sized hail stones tearing the town a new one. It follows several characters from Richard Armitage's deputy principal Gary, his two sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress), to a group of storm chasers including Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies).

Firstly, these characters are written pretty thinly, their motivations made up from a patchwork of disaster movie cliches we've seen a million times - a father desperately trying to connect with his wayward sons who're more interested in girls, a mother torn between work and her family, a couple of mad rednecks out to pull cool stunts and a determined storm chaser looking for the footage of a lifetime.

It wouldn't matter so much if any of them were remotely interesting, but they just aren't. Richard Armitage looks bored out of his mind, whilst his two sons are two-dimensional - "I hate you Dad, you never listen." and "you just care more about work." You get the picture. Plus, Armitage has a really, really awful American accent.

The aforementioned rednecks were annoying from start to finish, a one-scene joke that was dragged across the entire run-time for 'comic relief'. The only relief I felt was when they were finally sucked into the swirling vortex of wind and debris. Oops, spoiler alert.

Ahh, who am I kidding - like you actually care about who lives and dies. You'll fail to care about 80% of these characters anyway.

It's Sarah Wayne Callies (best known for her role as Lori in The Walking Dead) who stood out most for me, and despite her character being written in a supremely cliched way, she at least gave a performance that didn't resemble someone sleepwalking towards a quick paycheck *cough* Armitage *cough*

The plot also moves along pretty slowly, or at least it felt that way. Which isn't a good sign when your movie is only 90 minutes long. It's not until the final third that things get really interesting, with the storm finally reaching Biblical proportions. Honestly, by this point, I was having a pretty good time with the film, laughing and smiling along at the increasingly wacky set-ups and inventive deaths the characters suffered.

For what it is, which is a big dumb disaster movie, Into the Storm carries out this cataclysmic final act well, the visually impressive destruction and devastation delivering a somewhat satisfying conclusion to an otherwise slow-build drizzled with dull, cardboard characters.

What bugged me most was the half-arsed attempt at making this a found footage movie, akin to Paranormal Activity or Cloverfield. This type of film-making has its critics, but when done right (Chronicle), it becomes invisible to the viewer. You stop 'seeing it' and can watch it like any other film.

With Into the Storm, the found footage only comprises 60-70% of the shots, with standard camera-work filling in the shots people with phones can't get (aerial shots of the storm and so on). As a result, it was really noticeable (to me) when shots weren't found footage, and were just conventional camerawork.

Director Steven Quale excuses this by attempting to construct the film as a documentary about the storm, with amateur camerawork from the characters making up most of the shots. But it kinda annoyed me a little nonetheless. If you're going to make a 'found-footage' film, commit to it. Don't shoot half of it from a camera phone and the rest like a conventional film. Commit to one route or the other.

Plus, if you're trapped under some rubble and about to drown from the water pouring in, PUT THE CAMERA DOWN. STOP FILMING. Argh, whatever.

The Verdict: 4/10

Into the Storm is a silly, sometimes unintentionally hilarious entry into the disaster movie genre that only thrills in the final third. You will not be blown away. 


  1. I was hoping for more from this film than 4/10. Pity, I like disaster movies.

    1. As a disaster movie, it certainly has its moments. The final act is great. But in terms of characters and stuff, it's weak at best.

  2. Wasn't the airborne bovine the best part of twister though?! I still want to see this though, I usually find if everyone hates it, I secretly love it!

    Anywho, just wanted to let you know that myself and Allie at Flick Chicks have nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award, details are here Happy nominating!

    - Jenna

    1. Awesome, thanks Jenna :) I'll check it out now, sounds cool!

      Whilst my review was 'negative', I still had fun watching the film at times. Doesn't make it a good film, but still silly you know?

  3. Damn that's a shame. I really like Armitage but it looks like his career will never take off :/

    1. Yeah, he's really great in the Hobbit and Spooks, but just didn't seem to give a fuck here. Shame.



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