“Into the Storm” Lives Up to its Title
Without question, Steven Quale’s Into the Storm makes its intentions known from the first as the opening scene features four teenagers being killed by a rogue tornado while trapped in a car. More a thrill ride than a movie, time-wasting elements like character development and narrative complexity are blown to the wayside as the intent of this film is to put the audience in the middle of a massive storm, nothing more. To his credit, Quale and his digital effect crew succeed in doing just that as the movie’s throbbing, wind-driven soundtrack rattles your bones and any screenings done with the new D-Box motion seats would truly be an immersive cinematic experience.
And while there’s little in the way of plot…well, I guess you can’t have everything. What story there is concerns a team of storm-chasers led by the driven but boorish team leader Pete (Matt Walsh), who’s about to lose his funding if he and his three cameramen don’t get some up-close-and-personal footage of a tornado real quick. They’ve been saddled with Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), a well-meaning meteorologist who’s had a streak of bad luck where predicting where storms will hit is concerned. However, she’s spotting a massive cell heading towards the midwestern town of Silverton so she and the Titus Research Team head there in order to intercept it.
Meanwhile, the high school there is getting ready for their graduation ceremony where Gary (Richard Armitage), the only administrator there with any common sense wants to cancel the festivities. His sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress) are more than enough for him to handle, especially since his wife has died. This is going to be small potatoes once the perfect storm bears down on Silverton and all of their lives are changed forever.
Quale employs a found-footage approach so the movie is supposedly composed of different segments of video from various sources. So, at any given time, someone has a video-making device in his or her hand and for the most part their purpose for filming is legitimate. Donnie and Trey have been assigned to make video entries for a time capsule project, the Titus’ team’s mobile tank has 24 cameras mounted around it and idiot, adrenaline junkies Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep), whose lives consist of filming themselves doing stupid stunts so they can be posted on YouTube are never far away from some recording device. For the most part, this is an effective approach as it provides a logical excuse for Quale to get the audience in the middle of the action where a large portion of the film’s action takes place.
These various amateur videographers capture the wholesale destruction of Silverton, which is rendered quite realistically though some of what occurs during it defies all logic. The tornado that Quale conjures is so large that it’s as if a category five hurricane was tearing across the plains, picking jumbo jets up in the air and tossing them about like toys. Credit this meteorological hyperbole to overzealous screenwriter John Swetnam who uses global warming as a handy excuse to explain this mother of all storms.
Like all disaster films, presenting natural calamities for the purpose of entertainment is morally questionable especially when what’s portrayed on screen is realistic in nature. That being the case, Into the Storm is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea and will only appeal to those who, but for the grace of God, have lived one step removed from the tragedies presented on screen.