I love disaster movies. In my mind, The Day After Tomorrow is the Citizen Kane of disaster flicks: it is a worldwide event; a significant portion of the population is wiped out; and the main disaster spawns all sorts of little disasters. Then, when they run out of disasters, they throw in a pack of hungry wolves!
Into the Storm is nowhere near becoming a classic like The Day After Tomorrow. While it has some good disaster elements, they are few and far between. The “plot” follows a group of storm chasers who are, well, chasing storms. On the civilian side is a father and son who are fighting to find and rescue his eldest son, who has sneaked off to help a girl he likes with a video project. There is an extremely pointless third group of characters that are Jackass meets Duck Dynasty. I think they are meant to be comic relief. They do not succeed. The characters are flat and interchangeable because the “main character” is the monstrous tornado.
These are all stock characters in stock situations, which I am fine with – hell, that is what I want out of a disaster flick. But the film is meant to be a “found footage”-type movie – and it fails miserably. I am not a huge fan of found footage, but like anything, if it is done well, I can appreciate it. Director Steven Quale (whose only other narrative feature directing credit is Final Destination 5) fails to follow the basic logic behind found footage films. Frequently, especially in the first act of the film, we switch between found footage and traditional third-person narrative camera with no warning, no reason, and no possible way a camera could be shooting. Quale seems to think that if there are 25 cameras hooked up to the storm tank, then that will just take care of any possible shot and he can go ahead and shoot as he wishes. But there are numerous wide shots that have no earthly place in found footage. The footage all looks like it was shot with the same camera, whether it is a professional storm chaser’s rig or a cheap GoPro. The idea seems to be that this is the final documentary about this massive storm system, but we have footage from cameras that were sucked up into the tornados. The end result is lazy filmmaking that really pulled my attention away from the simple plot.
Into the Storm is not a good movie; it is not meant to be. But as a disaster flick, it is below average. The disasters aren’t as big as 2012 (though there is a reasonably impressive fire tornado); the atmosphere isn’t as insane as Aftershock; and it has less of a plot than Twister. Disaster movie fans are the only ones who should bother with this flick, and even then, I wouldn’t rush to see it.