While the found footage genre has been beaten to death over the years, nothing will stand in the way of filmmakers trying to wring something new out of it. If there was ever an opportunity to scare the crap out of audiences, the found footage film documenting tornadoes, Into the Storm, seems like an easy fit. But leave it to the director of Final Destination 5 (Steven Quale) and the screenwriter of next week’s Step Up All In (Todd Garner) to make one as brain dead as possible. Not even aping from 1996’s Twister — or being screened in a deafening Dolby Atmos theater — is enough to make up for the ludicrous acts on display in Into the Storm.
The opening scene tries to set the right tone as four teens are sucked up into a tornado. The next day takes us to a long introduction as we meet our characters who may or may not live through the 89 minute runtime. A gang of tornado hunters — consisting of documentarian Pete (Matt Walsh), meteorologist Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies), and camera operators Daryl (Arlen Escarpeta), Lucas (Lee Whittaker), and Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter) — are trying to capture the eye of a storm on film. Meanwhile, high school brothers Donnie (Max Deacon) and Trey (Nathan Kress) are filming time capsule videos for a school project while their vice principal dad Gary (Richard Armitage) is busy trying to organize the graduation ceremony taking place that day. Soon enough, they’ll all be fighting for their lives as the worst line up of storms head toward their quiet town to wreak havoc the likes of which they’ve never seen.
Did I mention the Jackass-clone “Twista Hunterz” Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep)? Two asinine characters serving no purpose whatsoever amongst an already too large cast full of absolutely no one to root for in the wake of the special effects. Back before Scream, horror movie characters were not self-aware enough to realize what was happening around them; Into the Storm pits us right back into that type of characterization where no one seems to have even so much as read a pamphlet explaining “What to Do in Case of a Tornado.” Let alone that every character acts the exact opposite of how a real person would. A string of storms are headed to town? Why not head for a rundown paper mill to give something to collapse around our poor characters, which gives them any kind of goal besides their own survival?
Warner Bros. is opening the film up against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot and only the second weekend of Guardians of the Galaxy making me think that at least one studio head already considers Into the Storm a wash. Judging by the mixed reactions of the two local screenings — at my press screening the audience laughed inappropriately at the ludicrous carnage, while at an earlier word-of-mouth showing they were totally eating it up and getting mad at my friend for laughing — it’s obvious Into the Storm is facing an uphill battle. Considering most people probably own Twister on Blu-ray or DVD, they’re better off staying home watching that instead, as Into the Storm is merely a big budget SyFy version of it.
The whole film feels like a movie-length Final Destination opening disaster sequence, but thankfully, the final scene doesn’t wind up being one of the characters realizing it was all just a premonition. It would be even better if the audience could do just that to inform them of their unwise ticket purchase.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B000W4D94I][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B004EPZ08Y][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B006QLH7O4]