Into the Storm attempts to sell a feel good movie about survival, but its negligible characters and hackneyed plot reveals that its nothing more than a disaster porn upgraded version of Twister.

In the span of a single day, the town of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of tornadoes. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run towards the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, thrill-seeking amateurs, and courageous townspeople, “Into the Storm” throws you directly into the eye of the storm to experience Mother Nature at her most extreme. (C) Warner Bros

Into the Storm is the spiritual successor to Twister rendered in found footage format.

The film’s combination of practical and CGI effects does make the tornado disaster look believable. There’s a b-roll uploaded in You Tube showing the actors subjected to physical conditions similar to a storm. Thanks to more than a decade of improved CGI, there’s plenty of large-scale tornadoes causing big-scale devastation of the hapless small town’s buildings and infrastructure.

On the other hand, Into the Storm offers nothing beyond disaster porn. The film makes an effort to properly set-up its found footage format by showing whose carrying which camera, but fails to develop other important elements.

The movie starts with good intentions by focusing on the people of the small town. Donnie (played by Brit import Max Deacon) records video messages of seniors at his school, asking about what they think of the future. Through this project we get to know his single dad and brother Trey.  We also get to know Kaitlyn, a girl he’s been pining for but never made a move until an opportunity strikes at graduation day. Somewhere else in town are other characters who willingly get caught in the fray – a pair of thrill-seeking amateur rednecks and a team of tornado chasers.

Most of the cast try to make it work, but they have underwritten characters with predictable subplots – contrived family drama, stereotypical young love, and cliched toxic ambition. The movie throws in a couple of rednecks for comic relief, the token black guy, and the sacrificial lamb. The designated love-to-hate character is played by Matt Walsh who is the weakest link of the group. I don’t know if he’s phoning it in or he can’t emote, either way he’s terrible.

The tornadoes look impressive but doesn’t make any sense. Instead of being a force of nature, they’re more like nearly sentient spinning claws of doom coming from the sky when the characters are around, all whom spend a good distance near or driving towards this thing. And yet, they don’t have pitiable consequences. There’s one exception and this time its not a cow, but you wouldn’t really care because there’s no one to emotionally invest in.

In the end the movie wraps up on a positive note but none of it is believable. Into the Storm attempts to sell a feel good movie about survival, but ends up as a visual effects reel.

My Rating: 3/10

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