Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh
When forecasts predict that a series of severe tornadoes are going to wreak havoc on the quiet town of Silverton, a series of increasingly forgettable characters including both professional and amateur storm chasers (that conveniently happen to always have cameras on them) and the teachers and pupils of the local high school are all faced with an increasingly difficult battle for survival against the unpredictable and sheer power of nature.
I know what everyone wants in their Christmas stockings this year; a found footage version of Twister! Well, it is a found footage film Jim, but not as we know it!
It is also not very good.
These days we are spoilt rotten with an abundance of low budget disaster porn films that feature on the syfy channel and they are often so bad they are funny, but is there any need for an expensive one? Well, if it is any good, then absolutely. Surely it is an open goal for a film to create relatable characters in that the antagonist of the piece is nature and just how unforgiving it can be? Unfortunately the makers essentially miss the open goal, as while the estimated $50 million budget (imdb) helps them create half decent special effects the rest of the film is exactly the same standards of those said syfy channel films.
The writing, and in particular the dialogue is atrocious, with completely unforgettable characters. Of course films like this are always going to be a case of set pieces first, plot and characters second, but screenwriter John Swetnam doesn’t even seem to try. One of the problems with that is the found footage element; I do not know if the marketing campaign tried to sell Into the Storm as a found footage film, but it certainly likes to pick and choose that side at its convenience. The storm chasers like to film everything and happen to have a car loaded to the brim with cameras facing in every angle, meanwhile the pupils of the local school who we are supposed to care about have been conveniently told to film everything that day for some time capsule nonsense. We also have plenty of shots from CCTV. However, we also have sweeping aerial shots, close-up shots that are not being captured by any of the characters and even a non-diegetic score (that is admittedly half decent) by Brian Tyler.
I get the whole notion that the found footage element is supposed to put us literally in the ‘eye of the storm’, but good camerawork can just do that (not to mention writing that gives characters to actually care about). Ultimately, in the case of Into the Storm it just allows all involved making this film to be extremely lazy, which is actually quite insulting to those who pay to see it (the film’s box office turn-over would suggest that was a fair few people). It means that exposition which is always the characters talking to the camera is clunky beyond belief and the writer thinks because it is literally the characters talking to the camera that it is naturalistic and therefore OK to be so. Likewise, there are some set pieces where CGI is being thrown everywhere and then it seems that all of a sudden those making it have realised they cannot afford to show how the set piece unfolds and so, because of the found footage element, think they can get away with cutting to a camera being held by one of the characters which conveniently gets dropped and all we see is a black screen and a cacophony of noises. It just makes a film that is ultimately quite dull also more than a little irritating in just how blatant the extreme laziness is.
So some would argue that when it is a disaster film that all everyone wants to see is action, and I certainly see that argument (it is one the makers of Into the Storm certainly seem to abide by). Admittedly, some of the set pieces do look good, but then considering the film’s budget, they should! However with such forgettable cardboard cut-out characters from the beginners book of screenwriting clichés (the acting isn’t much better) and a plot that is written (more like scribbled) so badly, the whole thing is just about watchable, but incredibly dull.
A film where the makers pick and choose the use of found footage just to suit their own extreme laziness; some of its set pieces do admittedly look half decent and the film is just about watchable, but Into the Storm is ultimately an example of dull disaster porn.