An acquired taste for sure, Kyle Mooney made a name for himself being an ass. From checking into kickers inside So-Cal to playing a definitely-on-the-spectrum sports reporter who’s totally out of his league, Mooney has capitalized on mocking mainstream culture, championing a keen ability to satirize entire populations by being the very dumbest version of such. Mostly by making an ass of himself. So imagine my surprise when Mooney’s brainchild Brigsby Bear (written by and starring Mooney and directed by comedy collective Good Neighbor compatriot Dave McCary) is such an earnest and heartfelt affair, if a bit simple-minded, saccharine sweet and stubbornly sunny. Read More
Into the Storm encounters a litany of problems right from the get-go, many of which focus around the complete lack of talent in the acting department. Storm‘s stable of actors consist primarily of those that popular cable shows have chewed up and spit out, including The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies, Friday Night Light‘s Jeremy Sumpter, Veep‘s Matt Walsh and iCarly‘s Nathan Kress. Each bring their own unique ineptness to the table, failing to gel together as a cohesive cast even on the most basic of levels whilst embodying characters who we hope to see offed from the very moment we encounter them. This assembly is quite literally a wind tunnel of talent; a crew that raises the bar for the “Worst Acting of the Year” award higher than a tornado peak and drops it on its head. The scariest moment is realizing that it’s going to last for 89 minutes; the most disturbing, that all these people have careers.
Director Steven Quale and his team of effects “specialists” conjure up a series of tornadoes that make 1996’s Twister look cutting edge. Add to that the complete and utter lack of internal logic of the film – especially it comes to the potency of any given twister (a smallish ‘nado is able to suck bystanders off their feet from 100 yards away whilst one about a mile wide that tosses 747s like they’re toothpicks cannot) – and you have a movie that can barely stand on its own two feet even on dry land.
The film starts with a groan as Donnie (Max Deacon) introduces us to his autocratic father (Richard Armitage) and swoop-bangs of a brother, Trey (Kress) in inglorious “found footage” style. You see, he’s making a time capsule to look back on in 25 years because nostalgia and fuck you. It’s an obvious way to establish the mechanics of the film but goes on to become an overbearing, embarrassing ploy to dish out concocted melodrama and false tension. Characters dish on “discovering” the real meaning of life after the disaster has had its way with them; they ooze over the importance of coming together. It makes for trumped up, on-the-nose Americana hooah. Even the ripped up flags wave in the background.
Quale spends the first twenty-odd minutes introducing us to an assemblage of the most obnoxious people ever to inhabit the lands once known as the Louisiana Purchase. There’s the techie dweeb who can’t act, the helplessly love interest who can’t act, the nosy brother who can’t act, the overbearing dad who can’t act, the stubborn principal who can’t act, the noxious storm chaser who can’t act, the cowardly cameraman who can’t act, the four-wheelin’ rednecks who can’t act and the grumbling scientist who can’t act. Unfortunately, we only get to see one sucked into a firenado.
The plot is as simple as “Some say there’s a storm comin’, some say it’s already here.” When two storm fronts converge into one superstorm, Into the Storm becomes the Perfect Storm on land. It’s Syfy’s Shartnado. Five minutes in, a friend turned to me and asked if this was made to go straight to RedBox. Somehow, it escaped that fate. Somehow…
Perhaps the most miraculously bad portion of the film lies within the simple fact that nothing and no-one makes a lick of sense. In the midst of this small town, middle-of-nowhere cornburbia, an airfield the size of LAX materializes just so Quale can throw a baker’s dozen 747s through the air. The vice principal of the school has literally no idea how to navigate the small town he’s lived in for an innumerable amount of years. Characters ask if everyone’s ok even after literally watching town’s folk sucked into the maw of a viperous cyclone.
The grievances go on. Professionals stare down tornadoes ripping towards them without second guessing the imminent danger they’re in. A school bus full of children are evacuated into a sewer drain to inexplicably disappear a scene later. Characters disappear and reappear at the convenience of the story inventions like they’re Neo zipping through the Matrix. It’s as if the script (obviously written on a cocktail napkin or two) got blown away with the passing wind. How else to explain this logical shit storm?
If there is a saving grace to Into the Storm (and I’m almost willing to admit that there is), it’s that it contains some of the most hysterical unintentional comedy of the year. None of the intended jokes land but when Quale tones it down for a tearful confession or lets his characters bicker over who’s to blame for another character’s demise and then quickly has them console each other, the belly laughs come a’rolling out. It’s the movie equivalent of a dog shitting in your dockers; it’s so accidentally funny that you can’t help but want to scruff its hair and forgive it immediately.
Looking over Quale’s resume, it’s really no shocker that he served up such a trash heap of an experience, considering he only has super-sequel Final Destination 5 to his name. That being the case though, I would expect a little more invention in the “kills” department. I think we can all agree that the firenado was appropriately daffy (and a suiting end for a character who was fifty shades of fey) but that’s really all Quale offers up for human sacrifice. No-one gets ripped to shreds by the sheer power of wind? No knifenados? Wa’ happened?
Instead of satisfying our bloodlust, Quale dumps out a sludge of over-the-top twisters that would only look at home on the Syfy channel. As if that will make up for it. The only footage we’re really intended to pay attention to are those shot from behind character’s shoulders as they play chicken with the impending deathwind. With the exception of one or two scenes, it’s as visually interesting as a fan on its highest setting. It’s as exciting as rolling your car window down.
By the third act, Quale beckons forth a superstorm so girthy and otherworldly that I fully expected the perfunctory Weather Channel newscaster to spew, “My god. This one’s ten miles wide with wind speeds of up to a million!!” Taking a cue from the pastures upon pastures of incoherence that pollutes the rest of the film, it wouldn’t really seem like that much of a stretch.
But as the CG winds wind down, we’re left with the inexcusable knowledge that the people onscreen presumably once took an acting lesson or two and I feel compelled to tisk tisk them for their work here. Seriously, this ought to be embarrassing for everyone involved. Hand slaps for all.
Whilst the inadvertent humor disqualifies Into the Storm from the most painful movie experience of the year accolade, that’s still not something you want to pull for the box art quote. It’s a disaster of a disaster film, never meant to exist outside the shadow of Twister. As trucks get hucked and characters chucked, at least Storm can claim to have made me cackle. It can’t be denied that while laughing at you may be worse than laughing with you, it’s still better than not laughing at all.