You don’t need to be a trained meteorologist to forecast the plot twists for Into the Storm, a woefully amateurish disaster flick about tornado chasers who meet their match.
Of course, the weather is the star of this unintentionally hilarious thriller about a small Oklahoma town that is hit by no fewer than three storm systems in a single night – each one more potent than the last.
Yet while the effects create some harrowing storm sequences and visually convincing twisters – tossing around cars, leveling buildings, and uprooting trees – the fun grinds to a halt whenever the skies brighten and the wind calms.
Pete (Matt Walsh) is a fledgling documentary filmmaker whose technologically savvy team heads to a small Oklahoma town in search of some immersive storm footage. Once the first funnel touches ground, Pete heads straight to the vortex while the locals panic.
Meanwhile, graduation ceremonies at the local high school proceed as planned, despite the inevitable onslaught, leading to predictably tragic consequences. Among those caught in the chaos is a school administrator (Richard Armitage) whose oldest son (Max Deacon) sneaks off to help a classmate (Alycia Carey) with a video project in a rural barn that just happens to be in the direct path of the destruction.
Needless to say, these aren’t any ordinary storms, but freaks of nature of the “I’ve-never-seen-anything-like-it” variety. Tornadoes spawn other tornadoes. One of them catches fire, and one even has the audacity to shred the American flag.
Perhaps a documentary about actual storm chasers would have been better than this ill-conceived mess from director Steven Quale (Final Destination 5), which gives us boring characters with trumped-up back stories who offer no incentive for emotional investment. In other words, it’s unlikely most moviegoers will care if they get washed away.
At any rate, all of the human drama provides too much calm before the storm, especially with a screenplay this contrived and formulaic. Just throwing around some weather terminology about wall clouds and hook echoes doesn’t make the film an authority on the subject.
As a consolation, it does offer lessons on how not to take shelter from severe weather. Even by contemporary B-movie standards, Into the Storm comes up empty. After all, a shark is nowhere to be found.