Into the Storm (2014) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Into the Storm (2014)

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While a suburban community prepares its adolescents for graduation a brewing storm grows ever-stronger, threatening to destroy these people and their homes.  Steven Quale directs Into the Storm from a screenplay written by John Swetnam.

Possibly the sweetest storm on film

"We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised."

During an early scene in Into the Storm, we are introduced to Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep).  They're two wannabe daredevils filming stunts that reach a mere 301 people on Youtube and call one another jackasses without the slightest hint of irony.  Kyle and Reevis seem to have the level of self-awareness needed to put their bodies in harm's way just for a few people around the world.  It seems likely that they will meet the fate of those same teenagers at the beginning by disappearing into an indifferent vortex when they're just looking to have some fun.

In the world of Into the Storm, Donk and Reevis are fools.  They don't have jobs like the documentary crew led Pete (Matt Walsh).  The prospect of children isn't something on either of their radars, something that Gary (Richard Armitage) and Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) have to worry about now that their children are growing up and their spouses are gone.  Donk and Reevis don't even worry about basic biological impulses, something that Kaitlin (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Donnie (Max Deacon) fret about with their flirtation.

If Donk and Reevis were in any other world then Into the Storm might end on them broken or dead.  But Into the Storm takes a trickier path and builds a film around the simple fact that storms have been referred to as "acts of God" for hundreds of years going back to the time when Moses was predicting weather patterns.  Everyone has faith in different things but God, be it Pete with his data or Gary with his skills as a parent and leader.  This leaves only Donk and Reevis who trust in God to take care of them and off they go, those two holy fools, straight into the thick of it.

Striking images

Striking images are abundant in Into the Storm and reinforce the continued test of its characters, like this moment where an associate challenges Gary and we see the pillar of another storm falling from his shadow.

Now, this might all seem a bit heavy-handed for what advertises as a found-footage disaster film, but Into the Storm makes this clear with some religiously inspired imagery and fun concepts.  The storm is introduced like an '80s serial killer as it picks off some teenagers making out in a car - working as the same sort of prudish lord that would have killed those same kids with a knife three decades ago.  There is also care by the diagetic editor, whoever it is that assembled this footage, to leave the images in that are distinctly miracles.  Like a column of fire erupting in front of a suddenly humbled mortal, or a fleet of airplanes returning to the air without need of their artificial components.

Director Steven Quale makes this holy cleansing explicit with a detour into a church, normally a sanctuary for the faithful.  In this case offers temporary shelter for a group who keep their faith in something other than the God.  Those who claim to be wise, strong, and honorable via their meteorological knowledge, Batmobile-inspired storm chasing vehicles, or unflappable leadership are looking to false idols.  Quale showcases this hubris in a brilliant and brutal scene where Pete finally gets his prayers answered and sees what fictitious peace beyond the eye of the storm before crashing headlong into uncertainty, chaos, and then darkness.

This running subtext elevates Into the Storm from a slick disaster film into an intriguing experience.  So many disaster pictures become so occupied with the bits of their characters that they run the risk of cliché - like the woman who's eight months pregnant or the man on the edge.  By eschewing almost all detailed characterization, screenwriter John Swetnam wisely keeps the focus on how the characters react as part of God's test instead of some traumatic part of the past or wondering just when they're going to snap.  This gives Into the Storm a great sense of immediacy, as they are characters living and reacting on a moment by moment basis.

Despite the found footage conceit,

Never able to stay still, Quale has multiple planes of action with different lighting in many scenes.

For those who just want a simple disaster film that's well-made Into the Storm hits that metric with great frequency.  The amount of times I was giddy with the craft of the spectacle, especially during the "burning bush" moment of the firenado, or when the funnels grow stronger and threaten to suck hapless people into the grey abyss.  It's top-notch spectacle that always manages to find a way to outdo itself before finally dispersing after Pete's false epiphany.

A sense of responsibility and strong material goods can provide temporary comfort for those in hard times.  But those strengths might as well not even exist when faced with the full wrath of God.  The best thing to do is follow the lead of Donk and Reevis, have faith in God, and find glory and comfort in that knowledge.  If you happen to get some killer storm footage you can put on Youtube later that just means you have the opportunity to spread the good word of faith in style.

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Tail - Into the StormInto the Storm (2014)

Directed by Steven Quale.
Screenplay written by John Swetnam.
Starring Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Jon Reep, and Kyle Davis.

Posted by Andrew

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