Into the Storm

By: Addison WylieInto the Storm poster

Into the Storm secures its audiences with that title and its exciting poster.  You can already picture thrill seekers lining up in anticipation for an entertaining time at the movies, hoping Steven Quale’s movie will measure up to other enjoyable guilty pleasures.  Twister would be the easiest to link to.

In fact, the advertising’s power of persuade movie goers works so well, that we instantly recognize the bad weather as the main star of the film.  When the high winds and perilous cyclones fly across the screen, Into the Storm is exciting and gives viewers exactly what they came for.  However, during the calm of the storm, audiences will be feeling jittery wondering when the storm will come back.

This is a Catch-22.  Show too much of the storm, and movie goers will complain about the lack of a human connection to the characters.  Focus too much on the characters, and movie goers becomes bored.  That’s exactly what happens in Quale’s movie, but I commend the filmmaker for at least leaning in the correct direction.

Quale is familiar with this sort of schlocky fare.  Before Into the Storm, the filmmaker directed Final Destination 5 – a film that had to find inventive ways to roll with predictable punches.  He did, and he created a decent chapter in Final Destination’s repetitive history.  However, the same snafus he finds himself in while making Into the Storm happened in Final Destination 5.  When Death’s gruesome traps weren’t killing off dopey disposable people, the audience found themselves growing anxious.

My theory is that Quale has a ton of showmanship that’s strictly surface-deep.  He, of course, could work with better screenwriters in the future, but I get a feeling he’d  still come up empty-handed when trying to figure out how to make his viewers “feel” for his characters.  This is a guy who should be working at Universal Studios designing theme park rides.

Into the Storm is passable and flashy yet forgettable aside from a few key scenes.  We see concrete buildings ripped apart like they were made out of wet paper bags.  We see tornadoes catch on fire and swallow up scenery instantaneously.  We see other spirals bond together to make the ultimate twister.  The effects are spectacular, and the chaos is a delicious feast.  One silent moment between “the beast” and actor Matt Walsh (playing a documentarian) actually gave me chills.

But, alas, as I’ve noted, when the disasters leave, so does our interest, and Into the Storm becomes a real snoozer.  The movie isn’t a found footage flick, but Quale and screenwriter John Swetnam utilize first person POV’s to an avail that only calls on the style when it can benefit the movie.  Cameras are indicated in sequences that my wife and I have started calling “Saving-Our-Ass Montages”, and rolling camcorders with unlimited battery life and tape capture intimate conversations that only provide exposition.

I can understand the movie is trying to find innovative ways to tell its story, but the style doesn’t build and stays at a level of convenience for the filmmakers.  It also dishes out some rather cruddy locked-off camerawork.

Into the Storm may be that guilty pleasure you’re looking for though.  Enthusiastic watchers seek out disaster movies the same way storm chasers seek out behemoth winds.  The film will certainly wet their whistles in the moment, although they may zone out during the sentimental dialoging.  Squeezed emotion just doesn’t have the same hutzpah as a fire-filled twister does.

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