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Directed by: Steven Quale

Starring: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh

It's graduation day in the small Texan town of Silverton, whose residents are unaware of the massive storm headed in their direction. Headed for Silverton with the aim of capturing footage of the storm is Team Titus, a group of storm chasers attempting to shoot a documentary.

The 70s was the heyday of cinematic disaster movies, as aging movie stars fell victim to earthquakes, avalanches and towering infernos, and the 90s saw a resurgence with Titanic and Twister. Now, however, the genre has been relegated to the SyFy channel, where it's been bastardised into monster movie spoofs like Sharknado.

Into the Storm is a rare big screen return for the genre. There are no killer fish in this storm; it's more Weather Channel than SyFy Channel, but it does co-opt some of the traits of the modern horror movie. The filmopens with footage shot by a group of teens who fall victim to a menacing twister. Then we cut to what seems to be documentary footage of the storm-chasing crew. Next we're looking through the lens of a high school student's camcorder as he shoots footage for a school time capsule project. Rounding things out is the phone footage of a bunch of intensely annoying drunks who perform Jackass style stunts. But this found-footage perspective is immediately dropped, and it quickly becomes confusing as to who exactly is filming all this.

Director Steven Quale is a protege of James Cameron and previously helmed Final Destination 5, the movie that got that series back on track after its tepid third and fourth installments. Early on, the movie fools us into thinking we're about to watch an FD riff on Twister by introducing us to an array of unlikable characters, whom we look forward to seeing torn limb from limb by all manner of flying debris. Sadly, such Grand Guignol stylings are shunned here for a family friendly cert. With only one on-screen death, the movie is a bloodless bore.

The visual effects are very impressive, but all this hard work is wasted, as it never plays into creating any suspense or tension. A final scene, which reveals some characters we had presumed dead are inexplicably still alive, serves to remind us we've merely been teased for the previous 90 minutes, and it's difficult not to feel cheated by the movie's wasted premise.

By Eric Hillis

themoviewaffler.com

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