I hadn’t heard much at all about Into the Storm before seeing it last week other than that it was a film about giant tornadoes. Just before the movie started I got out my phone to quickly check the running time on Wikipedia and read the first sentence:’ Into the Storm is a 2014 American found footage disaster film’. Oh no! This is a found footage movie? I would have gone to Magic in the Moonlight instead had I known that in advance.
Like most found-footage movies, Into the Storm needs to set up a convoluted reason as to why someone, or in this case everyone is filming all the time. The footage used comes from 3 groups of people around the town of Silverton, Oklahoma. The high school vice principle (The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage) has oh-so conveniently asked his two sons to film footage of the school for a time capsule, so they’re both taking cameras everywhere with them. A small amount comes from a couple of local idiots trying to make crazy stunt videos for YouTube hits. The most of the rest involves a documentary crew, headed up by experienced storm chaser Pete (Veep’s Matt Walsh) and meteorologist Allison (The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies).
While it may be a found-footage movie then, I have to say that never before has a director been less concerned with maintaining the illusion that this is being filmed by the characters. There seem to be hundreds of cameras about, which is partially explained by mentioning that Pete’s tank-like storm chasing vehicle is decked out with them on every surface. But also the shots nearly all look like they’re professionally done, properly lit and steadily held. There are even plenty of aerial shots and a bombastic score to accompany things. Not only that, there’s not even the pretence that this was edited together by someone after the fact. Some footage comes from cameras that are later destroyed, and on the other hand, some of the cameras seem invincible. If there are found-footage ‘purists’ out there anywhere they might be put-off by this casual approach to the sub-genre, but as someone who’s never liked it this actually made me enjoy Into the Storm a little more. It’s easy to even forget that this is supposed to be found-footage a lot of the time. It does utilise the vehicle’s cameras to get one of the most memorable deaths of the year in too.
While Into the Storm will inevitably draw comparisons with Twister, the main attempt at a plot involves the stern Armitage’s difficult relationship with his sons, and after the storm hits and they take shelter in the school; he realises one is still out there and he must go find him. If that sounds familiar that’s because it’s the exact plot of The Day After Tomorrow, another weather-themed disaster film.
The film’s not all that concerned with characters or story though, large amounts of it just involve stupid people doing stupid things. Its main selling point is just to showcase giant tornadoes tearing through the landscape. It could have perhaps taken things up a notch but this disposable disaster movie delivers just about enough on the excitement and destruction scale.