When I was a little girl, I had a morbid fascination with tornadoes. Not the damage that they caused to people’s homes and communities, nor the hurt and devastation caused to animals and humans. I was always fascinated with the power and fear – the power that tornadoes had over human nature and the fear it instilled in the hearts of many. Tornadoes wreak havoc wherever they strike. If it’s any consolation, it’s that humans rise up again and rebuild their lives and try to carry on with a brave face.
In the movie “Into the Storm” we see a group of storm chasers who are attempting to document a tornado; a meteorologist trying to finish her work up and get home to her little girl; a father who is a single parent and vice principal of the local high school trying to organize his day while more or less alienating his teenage sons; one of those sons attempting to rebel against his dad, while the other is preoccupied with videotaping everything. Throw into this mix a very unpredictable and horrifying tornado storm cell that shows no mercy on an unsuspecting community. The end result? Panic, chaos, devastation, physical damage and fear, because when tornadoes strike, there really is no safe place to hide. The movie begins with four teenagers in a jeep. It’s dark and raining. While two of them are kissing in the back seat, the two in the front notice sparks off the hydro poles. The sparks get dangerously close. One of the teens leaps out of the jeep, determined to tape whatever is approaching, with his cell phone. Fatal move. The next day, the four are pronounced dead and the community is alerted to a freak tornado that cut through their town, which is Silverton, Oklahoma.
It’s June, a beautiful but very hot day and Gary, the high school principal, has asked his sons Trey and Donnie, to tape people in the community, as part of a time capsule project. The time capsule will be opened in 25 years. Donnie has his eye on a girl in school, Kaitlyn, while Trey goes around and makes additional recordings for the project. He also encourages his brother to actually talk to Kaitlyn. Across town, the team of storm chasers – Peter, Allison, Daryl and Jacob – check out weather reports and storm cell footage, in the hopes of coming across a very big storm cell. Peter and Allison spend most of their time bickering. Peter is in it for the footage. Allison is more concerned about people’s safety. The good news is that a rather large storm cell is approaching their area. The bad news is that this isn’t something that anyone is really prepared for. Gary had watched the morning news and listened to the weather report. You also pick up the vibe that Gary’s relationship with his sons is somewhat strained. Not only does he have the high school graduation ceremony to deal with, he is worried about what this storm could do to the school and the community. At least someone was paying attention.
The comic relief in this movie comes in the form of a few “Beavis and Butthead types” – Donk and Reevis, a couple of country fellows who love to attempt really idiotic stunts, while loading them to YouTube, in the hopes of becoming YouTube stars. They drive a really beat down truck and put themselves in harms’ way numerous times, in order to get that raw footage.
Kaitlyn and Donnie end up off school, at an abandoned paper mill. Kaitlyn is more than just a high school beauty – she is concerned with trying to help the environment. Trey, smitten with her, decides to film her, in order to help her out with an application that she needed to fill out and polish. We all know that the weather is going to change for the worse, but we are curious to see how human nature will react in times of panic and chaos. The tornado strikes the town and causes some damage to a farm. The crew gets the footage but the tornado dissipates. However, the storm cell continues to shift in size and strength. Before you know it, the crew makes their way back to the town and that’s when the high school gets struck. As the graduation ceremony comes to end, rain begins to pour and the sky gets really dark. Everyone is ushered in the high school and that’s when you begin the see and feel the presence of the tornado. Specifically – what it is capable of doing. The damage is pretty bad – trees torn up, cars and truck knocked over like bowling pins, dirt and debris scattered. This was not the big one. The big one comes further down, when multiple storm cells merge, creating a horrendous tornado. It goes without saying that nobody has power and cell phone communication is null and void. The tornado strikes the abandoned paper mill, trapping Kaitlyn and Donnie. Braving the horrible conditions outside, Gary, Trey and Allison go and rescue Donnie and Kaitlyn. It’s not without a cost – Donnie almost drowned, Kaitlyn has a large, bleeding gash on her right ankle and the storm threatens to descend on the neighbourhood and high school. Power lines and communication is down, so nobody will have a chance to hear any tornado sirens or news bulletins beforehand.
It’s interesting to see how human nature changes in the face of disaster. Some of it good, some of it bad and some, surprising. A monstrous tornado strikes, disaster ensues, sacrifices are made for the greater good, tragedy occurs and in the end, the residents of Silverton move on, help each other out and try to put their best foot forward. No easy task when houses have been destroyed, people have been uprooted and people have been hurt or worse, killed by the storm.
If you like ‘disaster’ films that deal with fire, water or tornadoes, I recommend this one. The only big names in this film are Sarah Wayne Callies (from AMC’s The Walking Dead) and Matt Walsh (from HBO’s Veep). Every now and then, a little independent film comes along that’s not too bad. this is one of them. Check out the trailer below. Plus check out the movie as it premieres SATURDAY, MARCH 28 at 8:00pm or at various dates over the next month.