The best part of Steven Quale’s disaster movie Into the Storm can be summed up in two words: fire tornado. Seeing a massive explosion transform into a flaming twister is fantastic because it’s an entertaining visual and the most unique trick that this picture attempts. It’s too bad that everything else in it has been done before and done better by other films.
Usually when judging disaster movies, there are concessions you make ahead of time, which make it easier to accept their foibles. Since most films in the genre devote the majority of their budgets to special effects, you can assume they cut corners in other production areas like dialogue and casting. Into the Storm takes the standard shortcuts, but is terrible, even by disaster movie standards because its story, acting, and special effects are also weak.
There are essentially three groups of people that Into the Storm focuses on. Group one is a father Gary (Richard Armitage) and his teenage sons Donnie and Trey (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress). Group two is a team of storm chasers named Pete and Allison (Matt Walsh and Sarah Wayne Callies). And group three is a couple of rednecks Donk and Reevis (Kyle Davis and Jon Reep). Although all three parties start out separate, their stories quickly collide after several strong tornadoes cause massive destruction in their area.
None of these people have particularly interesting problems, which makes it difficult to get into the film. Gary is your typical overbearing single father whose kids have textbook resentment toward him. Also, his dorky older son Donnie harbors a crush on a classmate, but in typical fashion is too scared to do much about it. Pete and Allison’s struggle is slightly more engaging though, because they haven’t been able to catch a big tornado for their documentary and if they don’t soon, they'll be broke with nothing to show. The rednecks on the other hand, have the dumbest sections, because they’re just idiots trying to become YouTube famous.
Dialogue in the movie is incredibly stilted, particularly with adult characters like Gary. The picture's bad writing is then exacerbated by awful acting. Armitage can’t control his English accent mid-take and Callies has a similar problem with her character's Southern accent, which is disappointing given their stronger work in The Hobbit and The Walking Dead. Not everyone is terrible though. Walsh’s sarcasm is entertaining even if his character Pete is a dick and Kress is effortlessly charming as the mischievous Trey.
Aside from the aforementioned flamenado, Into the Storm’s special effects look cruddy. Granted it’s hard to make computer generated weather seem real, but more realistic effects could have compensated for some of the movie’s other shortcomings. Speaking of effects, Into the Storm is shot to look like a found footage film, which is annoying since Quale never fully commits to that idea. He uses other shots as filler, including ones that reveal large plot holes. Case in point: they’re in small-town America, yet all of the sudden there’s a major airport when planes need to be destroyed?!
In the film, people keep talking about how nothing like these events have happened before, which is amusing because the picture itself so unoriginal. Basically it’s just a lame found footage version of Twister with a few modernizations. Although Into the Storm is more like a sh***y movie you’d find on the Syfy channel, pretending to be good. If it embraced its terribleness in a self-aware kind of way like Syfy flicks, it would be much more fun to watch. Because it doesn't, it's just a boring turdnado.