Because clearly, one tornado is not enough! Into The Storm decides to go for an endless barrage of them in grey-vision for better and worse – this part documentary part blockbuster movie is entertaining, mindless and is a disaster movie oddity with a split personality.
The Disasters Faced
Tornadoes, plastic cows, low YouTube hits, car crashes, drowning, fire, windy things and death from above.
Into The Storm is a film that is very much in two camps at the same time. It kicks off almost like a direct to camera documentary as the storm chasing team take their massive new tank on the road. Their aim is to hunker down in the path of a tornado so they can see the eye of the storm to study it. The camerawork is a bit wobbly and amateur, the acting cheesy in places when they are talking to the camera and so on – it’s like a fly on the wall documentary. Then as that’s going on, you also get the “not for airing” parts where things are more dramatic and less cock wavey. Alongside this, school graduation in the town of Silverton is taking place and a teacher has asked his son to film it. So this too brings in a pro-Cloverfield like approach here.
When the storm kicks off the tanker team realise the tornado is heading right for the school forcing the school to evacuate and hope for the best. During the evacuation teacher, Gary notices his son Donnie isn’t at school at all and finds out through his other son Trey that he has actually bunked off to help his girlfriend in waiting Kaitlyn finish a school project in an old paper mill. Guess where the tornado is heading?
The school characters bump into our science and film crew and combine but have differing views on what to do. Leader and financer Pete is all about the footage and science whereas Allison would rather help the school. She, in turn, feels indebted to Gary after he saves her from near death.
All the stories reconverge for the finale when the beast of a tornado touches down to obliterate all of Silverton. It cannot be outrun, you can only hide and so the characters still standing at this point batten down the hatches and hope for the best. Who will survive the biggest tornado in existence?
Why is it worth watching?
At a tight 89 minutes, Into The Storm spends little time beyond character introductions and placement before the carnage kicks off. In that space of time though, most characters have a proper beat to them to skeleton-flesh them out. There is little in character progression here but because it is taking place in almost real-time, there is no time for it either.
Some of this is supported by the fact its filmed in a half documentary/half blockbuster movie fashion. There’s a character called Lukas who is barely on the screen at all who is behind the camera but it has thankfully got a gyroscope (as the film tells you) so it feels much more polished than Cloverfield for example. It catches peoples reactions. It can stay steady during an SFX shot. It’s like the best of both worlds and it is really unique in the disaster movie pantheon. It’s then merged in with news copter shots, Trey’s phone footage, Donnie’s school camera equipment and Jacob’s footage (the second science camera guy) to create a film. However, I am sure there are a few occasions – mostly when all hell is breaking loose – when Into The Storm goes into Hollywood movie mode and we have additional cameras too. I appreciated that because then the effects on screen are being displayed in full glory.
Interspersed throughout the film are Donk and Reevis. Two hillbilly YouTube wannabes doing stupid stunts. They decide to chase the twisters too and whilst very wisely the film uses them sparsely, their contribution adds levity to a very tense film.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the fact that each tornado was very different. We had your basic bitch twister, then sisters, the fire one and then the mother of all beasts. Each one brought unique challenges and situations and it meant that Into The Storm stayed far from stale. It also meant that when the film did go cinematic, it went for the jugular and pulls off some superb shots including easily my favourite death sequence by a tornado in a movie.
Filmed in grey (dull) vision, the film has a hyper-realistic HD gloss over a gloomy cloudy colour palette where everything feels grey and oppressive. It works well because the effects shots blend in nicely and there are some really great effects throughout. It’s the debris of everything that impressed me the most along with some great wind simulations. The way buildings, cement, wood, paper, vehicles and people flew around the place was and still is stunning to watch. It’s a technical marvel.
Everyone here plays their part well. Pete is purely science and film driven but he is doing it to make the world safer. Allison is the same but grounded by her 5-year-old at home. That makes her perfect for widowed Gary with his sons and whilst they aren’t paired off – you can feel the impending romance will be coming post feel if they survive. Trey is a loveable dickhead who grows up over the film and has some of the best lines whilst Donnie and Kaitlyn are the 2010’s version of The Day After Tomorrow’s Gyllenhall and Rossum. She even cuts her leg too! The YouTube duo are funny in a hick kind of way too. Daryl, Jacob and Lucas are the logistics and filming trio so they provide the action rather than be in front of it but even they get their moments too – just compacted into a couple of scenes. In short – no-one is an offensive idiot and everyone brings the feelgood runaway vibes.
‘They’re tornadoes! They don’t do courtesy calls.’
Three memorable moments
- The fire tornado sequence for its technical wizardry.
- That final tornado death sequence is one of the best pieces of recent disaster cinema
The obligatory weird moment
In one of the best moments of the film, Into the Storm pays direct homage to Twister, the previously undisputed king of the Tornado movies, by having a plastic cow fly off a building roof and across the path of our heroes. Love it!
The drinking game
Whenever you think ‘that home movie footage is looking super crisp and steady for that tornado’. It’s not a dig, I really like the concept – it just made me chuckle afterwards.
Into The Storm is an hour and a half of popcorn entertainment. It knows it. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. That’s its definite strength because it cuts the fat and leaves a roller-coaster ride of effects and thrills in front of likeable characters that you can root and cheer for along the way. Pleasantly much better than I expected and I’ve found myself enjoying more and more on repeated watches too.
Rating – 4/5 Excellent
Visit the film page for more info on cast, crew, artwork and screen gallery.
If you liked Into The Storm then you may like…
- Twister – the no brainer option here
- Category 6 Day of Destruction – Randy Quaid’s character makes this tornado film
- The Hurricane Heist – if you need robbery with your tornadoes
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*This review was updated to the ILDM format on 28/07/19.