Review: ‘Into the Storm’ Is an Ugly, Unpleasant Movie in Every Conceivable Way

Into The StormWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

Here’s the sole compliment I will pay Into the Storm: it let’s you know right away what you’re getting into. The very first minute of the movie introduces fans to the sort of grim, nihilistic, aesthetically repugnant and substantially barren horror that maintains throughout the hour and a half to follow, saving only the extent of its special effects for later… and trust me, it’s not worth the wait.

While we’ve been debating the toxicity of “destruction porn” since before Man of Steel, but surely we can point to entries in the disaster genre that don’t feel like soul-mincing works of large scale snuff — we can point to this summer’s Godzilla, for instance. But for every thematically dense project like the aforesaid, we have a half-dozen Into the Storms: movies that, somehow, pass off the most mangled constructions of mindless, banal, uninspired, grotesque unpleasantness as entertainment.

Into The StormWarner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection

We are asked to believe that there are characters in this movie: Richard Armitage insists that he’s a father of two, a disappointingly joke-free Matt Walsh tells us that he’s a storm chaser and a documentarian, and Sarah Wayne Callies introduces herself as a meteorologist of some kind. But we never get more than a résumé recitation from each character; we never earn an understanding of what any of them would do when faced with mortal danger, what they would think about, who they would want to be with.

So, really, we’re not given much of a story. Sure, there are tidbits mentioned about Armitage’s strained relationship with his two sons (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress), about Walsh’s obsessive devotion to his work, about Callies’ desire to make it home to her five-year-old daughter (ugh, the pandering). But these don’t feel like character beats, but rather like bits of data. Nothing within these characters exists beyond what we are explicitly told about them. As such, they wind up feeling less like people to whom we’re anchored and more like chunks of debris being tossed around between tornadoes.

And that’s what’s so ugly, unenjoyable, and dangerous about this movie: it’s dehumanizing. It prefers the thrills of demolition to the pathos inherent in accessing what this demolition might be doing to real people. But even in its misguided mission does Into the Storm fail: it’s not thrilling. Not fun. Not cool to look at. It is, in all conceivable ways, a disaster.