"Bad weather" movies have been a staple dating back to the classic Twister. The most recent major one was 2012, which released five years ago. Large scale storms are a source of awe and nightmares for all people, because one cannot control or stop them. We could only endure. That's what makes films like The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon entertaining in concept to watch, because the viewer knows the characters can't do anything to stop a hurricane or a tsunami. For the most part though, these disaster movies are purely meant for entertainment value without much of a grim tone. 2012 was was an exciting film with perhaps the greatest special effect sequences of the decade, but the viewer never truly felt the characters' dread, because it still felt like a play than something that was actually going on to these people. INTO THE STORM looked to be different. The found footage/faux documentary gets a bad reputation sometimes, but when used effectively it can create some of the most intense and realistic watching-experiences of all time. (A giant monster attack might sound unrealistic, but Cloverfield makes it seem possible.) This movie looked to deliver first hand what it was like to be caught in extreme storm.
At least, that's what the trailers made it appear to be.
By the end, I didn't know if this movie was meant to be pure entertainment or a social commentary on tornadoes. Either way, nothing really works that great. As pure entertainment, there are some intense scenes, (the tornado sucking up the airplanes was very well done) but there isn't much payoff. This is a very closed in event, not worldwide like in 2012, which is fine, but it doesn't have that sense of dread the trailers made it appear to have. There are many scenes showing the devastation of the tornadoes, where one has to wonder if it's trying to remind the viewer of just how deadly these storms are. With characters like idiotic YouTubers somehow living through one and having the final lines of the movie, this perspective is also doubtful. If some of the special effect sequences weren't so good, the Director Steven Quale movie would fit on the SyFy channel.
In the span of just a few hours, the city of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of the most furious twisters they've ever seen. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run toward the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
To be fair, not all of the characters are that bad. The main guy, Trey Fuller (Nathan Kress) is actually pretty likable. Here we have this graduating high school student whose dad doesn't appear to make time for, so the viewer feels genuinely sympathetic. He's respectable, which is rare for a movie with a high school student as the main character. His brother, while providing some funny comic relief, is stereotypical of this type of setting. As a nice bonus, THE WALKING DEAD'S Sarah Wayne Callies appears as Allison Stone, and like her character in the aforementioned show she's good here. I don't have a too much of problem with most of the other characters...expect for Donk and Reevis. As of this writing, I'm still wondering what their overall purpose was other than to be complete fools. Every scene they were in took away from an already dwindling grim atmosphere. The fact that they got the last line still perplexes me.
There are quite a few notable scenes besides the aforementioned airport one. The arrival of the tornado at Silverton High School was very well done. It's scenes like this where one wonders why they didn't go full-on found footage rote. There's so much potential for a truly intense film showcasing what's it's like to be caught in the path of a tornado, yet what we get is basically half that. This is not to say that all the human scenes are bad. The entire sequence when Trey was about to drown felt really genuine and his line at the end of the movie, "Live every day like it's your last, because one day it will be" really speaks volumes. But really, at the end of the day the viewer is here to watch these tornadoes wreak havoc & everyday people caught in it, and while there is that, it just isn't satisfying. (Still, one cannot deny how cool it was to see a tornado catch on fire, which will prompt the viewer afterward to Google and see if that could actually happen.)
INTO THE STORM is a truly missed opportunity. While 2012 was popcorn entertainment, this movie had the potential to be edge-of-your-seat dread. What if a tornado truly struck? That's the film this movie pretended to be, but at the end of the day it's basically just a slightly bigger budget SyFy flick. There's just too many other better films in the genre.