Review: Into the Storm (2014)

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Director: Steven Quale
Screenwriter: John Swetnam
Cast: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress, Arlen Escarpeta, Jeremy Sumpter & Alycia Debnam Carey
Runtime: 89 min // Certificate: 12a

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBH25XxM-7g]

How did Into the Storm ever make it into cinemas? No, I mean seriously; how does cheap, retrograde, made-for-TV trash like this manage to find an audience in every town, city and conglomeration across the land, with ten screenings a day for months on end in even the most discerning independent cinemas, when it’s quite patently more suited to Sunday afternoons on a channel like “Movie Mix” or “Five USA”; you know, the ones you only ever stumble across when you’re desperate, bored and unbearably lonely?

In fact, to push this rant to its inevitable conclusion, how do films like this even get made at all when there are hundreds upon thousands of people out there who have probably produced much more creative and tasteful works of art simply by ejaculating into a crusty sock in their bedrooms? I mean come on, it’s not as if audiences were crying out for yet another 90s-esque disaster movie in which the natural phenomena has a far richer and more interesting personality than any of the actual human characters. Yet here we are, victims of our own habits, watching a film that will no doubt appear under the “Films in which Richard Armitage gets pissed off at the weather” category on Netflix within the year. We get the films we deserve, we really fucking do…

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So, Into the Storm takes place over the course of a single day as a tornado “bigger than any storm that has ever been”, as our resident storm expert Allison Stone (Callies; The Walking Dead) informs us approximately once every six minutes, is sent by God to ravage the small town of Silverton, Oklahoma because the residents didn’t lynch the wedding of a gay Mexican and his black, transgender partner. Or something. I dunno. I stopped paying attention after about three minutes. But anyway, the storm (who, despite being the only remotely interesting character in the film, doesn’t even have a name) causes untold damage to the small town, ruining high school graduation day for a bunch of immensely irritating children in the process. Then, just when it looks like it’s about to die down, it merges with another storm to become a super storm (yep, that actually happens…), which then heads back into town to finish what it started.

Now, even if you’ve never seen a natural disaster movie in your life, you’ll still be able to predict every beat of Into the Storm’s impossibly mundane story. Despite the protestations of each and every character they’ve “never seen anything like this” they almost certainly have, unless they were banned by Quale (Final Destination 5) from ever watching any of the countless films from which this plunders its plot, characters and, ugh, “visual gags”. That the film doesn’t even attempt to set itself apart at all is bad enough, but it doesn’t even try to make the best of what it steals from everyone else. It’s all so determinedly po-faced that instead of laughing with it and having a bit of fun, you find yourself laughing at how outrageously awful it all is. Preposterous moments, such as when the “storm tank” is lifted high above the clouds and into the sunlight, while ethereal music plays in the background, or when a tornado catches fire and turns into a blazing inferno of wind and rain, are handled with such crippling sincerity that you can’t help but guffaw at how pitiful they are.

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Of course, were the characters or the performances remotely decent then this might be less of a problem, as you’d at least have someone to care about. Alas, they’re all about as clichéd and hollow as they come. We have the stern but caring Father (Armitage; The Hobbit), the rebellious child (Deacon; Summer in February), the rebellious child’s “love interest” (Carey; Where the Devil Hides) and the stubborn anti-hero (Walsh; The Hangover) – to name but a few – all of whom fanny about for just under 90 minutes, sadly avoiding death as the film’s one true hero – our beloved storm – fails in her mission to rescue the audience from having to endure another minute of the dreadful acting, writing and directing to which we are subjected.

Into the Storm is about as thrilling as passing wind, and just as uncomfortable, embarrassing and rancid. Don’t make the mistake I made of watching the trailer and thinking “hey, this looks fun” because it’s not; it’s just plain awful.

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