By: Trevor Chartrand
With the title alone, Firenado makes its intentions (or lack of intentions, perhaps) clear right off the bat: this is not a movie to be taken seriously. As if a film like this ever could be. This flaming twister of a motion picture is a zero-effort waste of your time – in the most entertaining ways possible.
It’s almost too easy to pick this picture to pieces, so I’ll try to go easy here. The premise involves a quirky group of tornado researchers, who are testing some type of device they’ve designed that can either control tornadoes, or possibly weaponize them – it’s not completely clear which. Their vague intentions aside, the experiment inevitably goes wrong and the scientists accidentally create some type of unstoppable super-tornado. Later on, this twister is set on fire after tearing through a gas station. And so, these are the completely logical series of events that lead to our titular, terrifying, firenado.
The rest of the film very much resembles the second half of 2010’s Birdemic – Shock and Terror, with a repetitive pattern of the same two scenes on a loop – a driving scene that’s followed up with an attempt to save some innocent bystanders from the disaster at hand. In this case, the scientists somehow outrun the tornado in their car, going from house to house to warn people of the imminent threat. In almost every scenario, the citizens ignore them and get killed by the burning ‘nado, and then it’s off to the next house. Rinse and repeat.
It’s worth mentioning as well that this bizarre little film also features a B-plot chronicling a gang of criminals as they attempt to rob a mafia accountant – come hell or high water (or even wind that is on fire). And while the climax of Firenado does connect the two plots, they’re mostly irrelevant to each other.
The technical problems in this film are endless, suggesting the filmmakers couldn’t be bothered to aim for any semblance of authenticity. The CGI tornado looks awful, and there are no attempts to blend the twister to its environment. The branches on nearby trees are not swayed by the high winds. No effort is made to blow the characters’ hair around; their curly locks all remain as still as a breezeless day. It’s as if the producers of the movie thought their absurd title was all they needed to sell tickets, and the actual film itself was an irrelevant afterthought.
One of the more confusing choices was for the filmmakers to have the film set in Texas, only to shoot in what appears to be the quaint English countryside. All of the cars in the movie have European license plates and a driver’s seat on the right side. I mean, sure, the scientists’ cardboard van set does have an American flag draped over its back windows, but that’s not quite enough to fool us.
The cast and their performances don’t lend much credibility, either. As far as I can tell, there’s only one actor who makes any effort to perform with a Texan accent – but it’s a pretty pitiful attempt. The rest of the cast don’t bother to hide their British (or possibly Australian?) voices, once again suggesting that the filmmakers just didn’t care. With the film so clearly being produced in Europe, why not just set it there? Especially if you’re not going to bother trying to hide it!
To be fair, Firenado is an easy target. There’s plenty to laugh at and it does entertain, but for all the wrong reasons. This picture is a hastily slapped-together mess, lazily made as a ‘bad on purpose’ type of film that tries a little too hard to be awful. And it certainly tracks, given that co-director Rhys Frake-Waterfield’s next project is Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, a similarly exploitative low-budget film that I suspect may also be banking on a silly title for success. I’m speculating of course, but given his track record with Firenado, it could be safe to assume Pooh may have been carelessly produced as well. Fool me once, as they say.
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Trevor Chartrand: @OhHaiTrebor
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