You’re better off taking shelter from this storm

Movies are stupid. They’re allowed to be. Into the Storm however is outright ignorant.

Studios have no reason nor are they forced to stick to reality – otherwise, what’s the point of cinematic escapism? But, Into the Storm makes it look easy to dodge natural disasters. Meteorologist Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) sends out this feature’s atmospheric warning call: Storms as those depicted here are unusual but soon won’t be. Global warming says so in this not-so-subtle metaphor.

Maybe she’s right. Either way, hiding in a storm drain from 300 MPH winds is grossly idiotic, much like this movie. Standing 20 feet away from a mini-twister on fire is grossly idiotic too, but Into the Storm loves it.

Disaster porn or not, this flimsy ‘found footage’ escapade is meant to place people in danger zones, that unreality we often crave during summer months and right in the midst of the southern USA’s brutal severe weather cycle. So here we are, teaching people again how to copy moronic urban legends in the midst of nature’s burliest vortex events, such as attempting to drive away from a torrent of storms in cars because that’s smart. Except it’s not.

Into the Storm’s few special effect high points are divorced from the core concept of hand held camcorders, mostly because those shots look better in trailers. If Into the Storm doesn’t care enough to adhere to its basic idea, the audience shouldn’t either.

But, it’s not all levied against director Steven Quale. Instead, it’s writer John Swetnam who builds a contained pocket of small town characters, and almost all of them are draped in stereotypes. Dialog execution makes one reconsider if cinema is actually art, while motivations are barely layered before this 82-minute schlocker is into the guts of its action. In fact, the script spends more time with groan-inducing foreshadowing which often goes nowhere (…”The abandoned factory is full of chemicals!”) than it does building any of its protagonists.

Where credit is due, Into the Storm produces to expectations. Action is frequent but rarely fluid, and even completely brain damaged as characters warp between town locations for the sake of story. Half the time, this feature cannot decide if it is in the midst of a twister or not. SyFy Channel flicks are better prepared. Consistency is alarmingly poor, and it gives nature the presence of a horror slasher waiting in the background to pick off high schoolers or beer swilling redneck typecasts rather than the mindless force of destruction it should be.

At its end, surviving members peer leeringly into the camera, issuing a warning to those who may someday stare down similar weather functions. The, “this could happen to you,” mantra is deeply in place although few people on this planet are dumb enough anymore to enter into a staring contest with a three mile wide F5 – unless they’re in this movie. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]



Note: The following technical critiques are based on location experiences. Such reviews are not scored and should be considered as generalized guidelines given variations in theatrical projection/audio systems.

Despite the myriad of cameras likely employed during production, this Warner release is pleasingly consistent if mild in fidelity. Images are washed with gray overcast and few other primaries. Sharpness is limited while locked under some debris, two characters are flanked by a lack of contrast. Black levels are not this one’s strong suit either. In terms of intent though, Into the Storm is direct in how it wants to look.

However, those visual quirks are whisked away by the winds in this powerhouse audio work which satisfyingly recreates the sensation of being amongst the heaviest of winds. Bass is thrilling, both as an accentuation of brutal destruction but also the incoming threat. Guttural LFE fills the soundstage while a barrage of debris passes around effectively even as volume spikes. If any part of this flick has to be considered a thrill ride, it’s the sound mixing.

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