The small town of Silverton unexpectedly becomes the centre of two storm paths. This convergence causes large tornados to spring up all over the town, devastating buildings and endangering the lives of the people who live there. When his eldest son gets trapped after one of the tornados hits, widower Gary, joins a team of storm chasers who can help find him. With the twisters becoming more and more intense, the small group tries to escape but realising that a giant tornado is headed towards the local high school, they must do everything they can to save everyone who is inside before the building is destroyed.
Into The Storm (2014) – Director: Steven Quale
Running Length: 89 mins
Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh
Unlike other meteorological disaster movies such as ‘2012’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘Into The Storm’ focuses on what might happen if a small community were hit with dozens of large tornadoes. While the town itself suffers mass devastation, being confined to a small area and not travelling across a country or even the entire world, means that it is much easier to focus on a small number of characters who can be sympathised with. The characters are all good with interesting back stories and personal lives but the director has perhaps anticipated the likely audience by assuming that they will not want to be too invested in them and so has instead focused on the special effects.
Much of the appeal of disaster movies is based on how good the special effects are and ‘Into The Storm’ doesn’t disappoint. Thankfully the effects are mostly concentrated on the smaller tornados which pick up vehicles, people and chunks of buildings which fly into the air, landing very close to the people fleeing for their lives. It is relatively unheard of for disaster movies to use the ‘found footage’ technique and this movie’s use of this medium brings the action extremely close to the audience; therefore making everything much more intense and exciting. It is occasionally difficult to see exactly what is happening but events are mostly explained shortly afterwards and the uncomplicated plot means that the audience are not left to flounder at any part of the film.
The finale consists of a giant tornado which is inevitably the biggest the expert has ever known. Sadly, because it’s so huge, there are a few scenes of close-up action but it is mostly just a large special effect that moves across the screen leaving levelled buildings in its wake. However, because there was plenty of excitement from the smaller tornados before, the audience should not go away disappointed. ‘Into The Storm’ is a very good example of a disaster movie and fans of the genre in particular should very much enjoy it as should anyone who enjoys good CGI-led action.
IS ‘INTO THE STORM’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The movie starts with a car full of teenagers, two boys and two girls, the two in the back are kissing and the other two are talking in the front. One of the boys promises one of the girls that he isn’t filming but he is and he puts a thumb up to the hand-held camera. Shortly after, a tornado picks up the car and the camera falls to the floor so little more is seen of what happens next, however a girl can be heard screaming in distress and a radio report in the next scene explains that the four teenagers were all killed.
Two of the main characters are teenage brothers, Donny and Trey, and in an early scene, one of them tells the other that he has filmed his teacher’s cleavage, saying that she has a ‘nice rack’, and this video is shown to camera for around 5 seconds. Donny is romantically interested in a girl at his school and, knowing this, Trey tells him to ‘get some skin on camera and email it to me’. Another teen boy says that when he’s older he believes that he will have a ‘smoking hot wife’ and will ‘bang her good’.
There are numerous scenes of several tornados hitting the town, each one is accompanied by loud and intense music and the camera closely follows what is happening to the characters, making the audience feel part of the action. While the intention is to increase the excitement levels, this could be very scary for some children, especially on the cinema screen where it is difficult for parents to give any reassurance.
When some people take refuge from the tornados, one character walks towards a glass door and a tree suddenly crashes through providing are very sharp and frightening ‘jump’ moment. Shortly afterwards the tornado rips away part of the building and some people are dragged towards it, however it is unclear whether they are killed and as they are incidental characters, this should not be too upsetting for kids.
One of the tornados travels through a large fire and becomes a ‘firenado’. One of the main characters who the audience are likely to have begun to like gets too close to it and is dragged in, the camera shows them swirling round and round as they move upwards, screaming the whole time.
Two characters get trapped after a tornado hits and, with things looking very bleak, they film themselves talking to their families, hoping that if they die then their last words to them will be found. One is very emotional and they sob through the whole message. The other is a little less emotional but their message is very touching and, as this is their final goodbyes to their loved ones, it could be quite upsetting for a lot of people watching.
As might be expected, there are many deaths throughout the movie, including a few established characters. One is taken in a vehicle and after being lifted hundreds of feet into the air, they plummet to the ground and the camera cuts out.
Two characters who are the ‘comedy relief’ of the movie are two yokels who are desperate for fame through Youtube videos. When they are first introduced they are doing a ‘Jackass’ style stunt of riding a lawnmower into a swimming pool which one of them has set on fire. As the character immediately goes underneath the water, they are not hurt; however parents may not wish their children copying this kind of stunt. These characters then follow the storm chasers, hoping for a video that will get a lot of Youtube hits, however their lack of knowledge and constant drunkenness soon gets them into trouble when a tornado appears right in front of them.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Into The Storm’ is a very good disaster movie which, to its credit, doesn’t try to be anything else. The effects are fantastic, the action is exciting and the characters are interesting without being the only focus; this combination makes for a well-balanced and entertaining movie. Due to the intensity of the tornados, frequent moderate cursing and a few moderate sex references, we feel that this movie should be appropriate for most kids aged 10 and over.
- Violence: 3/5 (the death of the character who is taken into the firenado is the strongest of the violence, no other deaths are shown on-screen – the camera either cuts away or they are dragged off-screen and not seen again, there is no violence between characters. One girl is cut badly on the leg and her wound is shown from a distance and a man is found alive but with a cut on his head, there is some blood but neither of these wounds are gory)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (one character’s life is saved by a loved one and when they wake up, there is quite an emotional moment where they embrace)
- Fear Factor: 3/5 (the tornado scenes which often include several ferocious twisters converging at once are likely to be very frightening for young kids)
- Sexual Content: 3/5 (moderate sex references in the dialogue, no intimacy is seen other than some kissing)
- Bad Language: 4/5 (frequent moderate cursing, some blasphemy. One strong word is used)
- Dialogue: 3/5
- Other notes: Deals with themes of the human cost of natural disasters, the importance of family and helping others even if this puts you in danger.
- One of the cinematic trailers before the movie was for ‘Sex Tape’. This trailer includes moderate references to sexual activity which has been recorded and accidentally uploaded onto the internet. While ‘Into The Storm’ is a 12A rated movie and this kind of content may be expected of other movies with this rating, it is likely that many parents taking their kids to a disaster movie would not wish them to see a trailer like this, especially as they will be unable to prepare for it.
Words by Laura Record