Financially, found footage movies - in which all or a substantial part of a film is presented as discovered film recordings - are a little risk, big reward situation for a studio.
Despite the lack of quality the genre usually outputs, they cost next to nothing in Hollywood standards and turn huge profit margins. So it's a bit of a surprise to see they decided to take the chance and flip the bill with this latest found-footage disaster flick, "Into The Storm," a 50 million film that can't really make heads or tails of whether it wants to be cheap shlock or something a little dramatically in tune.
Not that you should go into this disaster flick - that's deservedly more in line with a television premiere on the Syfy channel - expecting any sort of emotional connection. It just costs a whole lot more, and even though it has some admittedly spectacular visual effects, it also attempts to cross the dramatic line in one of its plot strands while others are just unashamedly goofy.
Shown is a scene from “Into the Storm,” starring Richard Armitage and Sarah Wayne Callies. The disaster film chronicles the impact of dozens of deadly tornadoes on the fictional town of Silverton and how its residents must fight to survive.
The multi-stranded storyline basically serves to put cameras in the hands of every one of its characters, the only evolution this sorry genre has been able to bring to the table. It seems like with every new entry into the found-footage arena, filmmakers start to take more liberties with the limitations and utilize alternate sources of video, despite any rational explanation.
In "Into The Storm" taking these liberties even caused the filmmakers to lose sight of the genre completely, by ignoring the fact that this is a found-footage movie in a later, more dramatic scenario in which we are watching interactions that are not being recorded by the individual characters, defeating the purpose of it altogether.
In the first, we meet a group of storm chasers featuring Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Walking Dead"), a meteorologist subjected to working with a group of morons led by a character who's getting tons of money to see what it's like inside the eye of a tornado - which, if you haven't seen it, is basically lifted straight from the 1996 disaster flick "Twister."
The second storyline follows a group of redneck adrenaline junkies, solely interested in acquiring YouTube fame by performing insane stunts, and the tornadoes heading their way are just another opportunity for them to get a million views.
And lastly, a family of two siblings with a serious interest in video production and their father, the principle of their school. They are filming the graduation ceremony that day which, of course, is outdoors, despite the severe weather warnings everyone is well aware of.
All strands come together except the adrenaline junkies, who are exactly the type of characters you would expect in a film like "Into The Storm" - except their apparent obnoxiousness fails to bring any entertainment value, and so their arc goes nowhere.
While the filmmakers bring a dramatic nature to the table, the family dynamic in another strand only bogs it all down even more.
There are no real performances by any of the characters, and any depth they attempt to add - and they do give slight hints of things brewing underneath - fails to lead anywhere as well.
"Into The Storm" was directed by Steven Quale, who made the fifth "Final Destination" movie, a film that, despite not working too well, at least has an understanding of its target audience. Giving a B-movie a 50 million budget doesn't keep it from being a B-movie, so why not embrace the kitsch and have fun with it?