On high school graduation day in Silverton, Oklahoma, as the weather becomes more inclement, a team of down on their luck storm chasers (led by VEEP’s Matt Walsh) roll into town. The school's vice principal (THE HOBBIT’s Richard Armitage) has charged his film geek sons Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress) with filming the ceremony. We see a number of perspectives when unpredictable and unprecedented tornadoes begin tear the town apart.
You couldn’t categorically call INTO THE STORM a 'found footage' movie, as some of the owners of the footage survive to the end of the story. Technically it’s a mockumentary, but let’s be honest and call it what it really is – an excuse; a device. Think TWISTER told ala CHRONICLE, and you’re there. It's not a bad premise, but as is so often the case, while it works brilliantly for the big/loud action sequences, it's pretty useless and clunky for any other part of the storytelling. Or at least it is in the hands of screenwriter John Swetnam (STEP UP: ALL IN) and director Steven Quayle (FINAL DESTINATION 5).
There’s a reason INTO THE STORM is releasing over school holidays in Australia and New Zealand – this is a disaster movie aimed squarely to the tastes of teenage boys, so you can forget about anything like a new, or even a nuanced character. Apparently we’ll get what we’re given - which is a selection of stock cut-outs from the disaster movie cupboard, dusted off one more time (only to have dust thrown at them again, at 500km/h); just shut up and wait for something loud to happen. Same goes for exposition (cue: people saying “I’ve never seen anything like this!” a lot).
Get past what feels like about half and hour of that (plus characters conveniently holding cameras at other people when they speak - or worse, walking into their own frame to have a conversation), and you will be treated to some solidly mounted, fun set pieces (keep an eye out for the nod to Jan DeBont’s TWISTER). Just don’t expect to care much - and pay no attention at the moments where Quayle has to briefly abandon his central conceit.
Perhaps the most curious thing about INTO THE STORM is what it’s not. Quayle’s FINAL DESTINATION 5 often gets mentioned by way of its impressive 3D element – and yet INTO THE STORM isn’t stereoscopic. The decision was apparently Quayle’s, who was more interested in the ‘first person’ storytelling style. That’s made for something of a double disappointment – reverting to traditional third person would have necessitated a sorely needed script rewrite and polish.
INTO THE STORM is released September 4 in Australia and New Zealand