26 Aug 2015

DISASTER FILMS - Into the Storm (2014)

Films have formulas and rules, but how well do Disaster films follow those formulas?

Into the Storm is a mostly "found footage" film about a large number of tornadoes hitting a rural town one day. 

The following will include spoilers for

Into The Storm (2014)

RULE #1 - Characters

"I just want you and your data to find me a goddamn tornado." ~ Pete Moore.

  • Male lead - Allison Stone PhD, meteorologist.  OK, another female, but get over it.  She's the ignored expert, although only briefly ignored and believes in data not a fringe theory.  Has a small amount of family angst, but her only action scenes are really being sucked towards a tornado a couple of times.
  • An Important Person - Principal Thomas Walker. Not a very high level person at all, but still.  He does refuse to postpone the graduation ceremony (in an argument that can be barely heard filmed from a distance).  He is also, briefly, the thing stopping them abandoning the evacuating the shelter.
  • Female lead - Vice Principal Gary Fuller.  Yes, a male, get over it.  The one the expert helps and almost has a relationship with.  He gets a few more action scenes than she does.
  • The experienced tradesman - Pete Moore.  An experienced storm chaser and documentary maker.  He disagrees with Stone but final accepts her advice and grows a grudging respect for her.  He has total faith in his tank "Titus" and he dies when hit fails to remain secure in a tornado.
  • The joker - Donk & Reevis, unemployed Jackass wannabes. The pair have no serious side.  Their death almost fits, but then they miraculously and unbelievably survive.
  • The wash-out - Donk & Reevis  may count.  The pair, however, have no arc or growth.
  • A typical family - The Fullers, Gary and his sons Donnie & Trey.
  • The older woman  - No old woman. Chester Campbell, a very minor old man character.
  • Animals - Sooner, Chester's dog.
  • Not appearing in this film - The usurped official The new manThe child;  A nerdy/geeky expert; The loving couple; The bickering couple; The tired couple; Someone religiousThe criminal;  Relatives of the important guy; Minor celebrity.

RULE #2 - Sex & Nudity

"You are not graduating down there, David Brody." ~ Unamed girl. 
"Hey, you better not be filming us." ~ Another unnamed girl.
  • Nudity - No nudity, one shot of a screen with cleavage on it.
  • Sex - No sex, just a little bit of talk of it.

RULE #3 - The Disaster

"I've never heard of this many tornadoes before." ~ Gary Fuller.
"It's a freak occurrence.  Two storm fronts taking the same path." ~ Daryl Karley
"It's not freak anymore.  Not after Katrina. Not after Joplin.  What used to be once-in-a-lifetime seems to be happening about once a year.  Look what happened with Hurricane Sandy." ~ Allison Stone.
  • Manmade Disaster - Stops short of blaming climate change.
  • True Story -  I assume the "found footage" is supposed to make it feel more real, although the forced nature works against that.  Stone briefly refers to real events to justify the multiple tornados.
  • Unreal -  Two was noted as being freak.  Then there were more, including "the largest in history."
  • Sudden end - Seems to rope-out and dissipate when it was no longer needed for the plot.

RULE #4 - Endangered

"The school... The whole town's in there."  ~ Trey Fuller.
"Warning systems are out.  They're sitting ducks." ~ Gary Fuller.
  • Warning issued too late - After the mass tornados it is mentioned that the sirens were down providing no warning.
  • Unheard warnings - Donnie and Kaitlyn in the old mill.
  • An Event - A school graduation.
  • Sneaking out - Fuller left his brother to film the graduation while he went off to help a girl he had a crush on.  Billy, David and their unnamed girlfriends skipped graduation to get drunk and make out in a parked car.
  • Rescuers -  Gary and Trey Fuller looking for Donnie.
  • The stubborn/Criminal activity - Not quite either, but ... are just plain stupid risk takers and vaguely fit here.
  • Did not happen - Warnings; Meetings; Fear; Arguments.
  • Additional: Storm chasers - people who deliberately go into tornadoes.

RULE #5 - Destruction

"From our vantage point the damage could have been a whole lot worse.  The tornado just narrowly grazed the school." ~ Weather reporter.
  • Panoramic opening - No.  Darkness leading to camera phone footage inside a car. A by-product of the films forced and non-enforced use of "found footage."
  • Warning bouts of destruction - Unrelated tornado.  Hailstones as big as golf-balls.
  • Landmarks - Rural area, no landmarks.
  • The tipping point - The formation of the tornado.
  • Ongoing destruction - There are multiple tornadoes.
  • The final event - The mega-tornado going over the drain the main characters are in.

RULE #6 - Death

"Jacob's dead, Pete.  He'd probably still be alive if it wasn't for you." ~ Allison Stone.
"You think what happened is my fault?" ~ Pete Moore.
"I mean, he wasn't out there shooting for himself, was he?  He was getting your shot for your movie because you told him nothing else matters, and you wouldn't let him go." ~ Allison Stone.
  • Prelude deaths - Four teens in the opening scene.
  • Mass casualties - There must have been mass casualties, but the film downplays them.
  • The black guy - Billy, a school student is killed in the first moments of the film, he dies with three white students, but as he's probably responsible for their deaths, I'm counting him.  Principal Walker, presumably survives, last seen just before the evacuation to the buses.  Daryl, presumably survives last seen in the church about to find his own way out of the area.  A volunteer fireman, presumably survives, last seen driving survivors out of the area.
  • An important person -  Principal Walker, presumably survives, last seen just before the evacuation to the buses
  • The experienced tradesman  Dies in Titus.
  • Reminders of danger One of the people in the drain is sucked out just before Pete "seals" the end with the Titus.
  • Bad options - Jacob got too close to a burning tornado trying to get footage of it.
  • The good coward - Jacob freaked out when actually presented with a tornado and wanted to leave. Soon after stayed too close to a burning tornado to get footage.  His final actions were more stupid than brave, however.
  • The noble death - Pete getting in the Titus to keep the people in the drain safe.  Also a fairly beautiful death.
  • Pets - Sooner is found looking worse-for-wear after the storm,  Seeing him makes people look for Chester, so he is found Sooner then he would have been otherwise.
  • Deaths not occurring The older womanPanic; Children; One half of a couple; The usurped official; The bad coward;Slow death; The male lead, Sacrifice.

RULE #7 - Last Ditch Group

"Where are you going?" ~ Allison Stone.
"I'm getting my son."  ~ Gary Fuller.
"Please, wait. It isn't safe out there." ~ Allison Stone.
"What if it was your daughter?"  ~ Gary Fuller.
"If we can get the van back on the road, we'll be safer than we would be on foot. Okay?" ~ Allison Stone.
  • Heroes & Survivors - Gary and his son team up with most of Pete's crew to find Gary's other son, then head to the school to warn those in the shelter, making them a little of both, especially once a couple of cars, the Titus and a bus are cut off and have to hold out in a drain.

RULE #8 - Ridiculous Solutions

"Dad, trust me, okay? I filmed here.  There's a storm drain. Right over there." ~ Donnie Fuller. 
  • Outrun -  Running/driving away from tornadoes.
  • A plan  No plan beyond outrun the storm.
  • Big & simple -  Hide in the storm drain.  Simple.
  • Critical fail -  A truck damages the grate.
  • Time -  No real race against time.
  • Instant - The solution really shouldn't be but the storm just gives up.
  • Explosive - Not an explosive solution, but the tornado was ripping things up.

RULE #9 - Happily Ever After

"To be honest, it didn't look good back there.  But we made it."  ~ Gary Fuller.
  • Reunited:  No couple estranged to reunite.  Gary's relationship with his kids is repaired and Stone is back with her daughter.
  • Together:  Donnie may have ended up with Kaitlyn, but Gary and Stone don't seem to hook up.
  • Vindicated:  The film gets made (and seems, partially, to be the film) as Pete's legacy, seeming to vindicate Pete.
  • Retribution:  Random destruction by nature.  Stops short of blaming climate change.
  • Lesson:  The to-camera pieces at the end suggest people should love life and embrace each day.
  • Or not...:  Not really usurped.
  • Sunrise:  Not a literal sunrise, but once the storm disappears it's a sunny day.
  • Beautiful: Some beautiful ruin shots but ends with sappy to-camera pieces and a momen with Donk and Reevis.

RULE #10 - Sequels

"Is that it?  Is it over?" ~ Donnie Fuller.
  • Sequels -  No sequels.
  • Remakes - No remakes.
No sequels, but it is a very recent film.    However, notes are made for future reference.
  • More deaths - Not as many as Deep Impact or The Day After Tomorrow and downplayed.  About 7 onscreen, only two main characters.
  • More effects - Ongoing and large effects.
  • Better effects - About equal with previous.
  • More Formulaic - A little less formulaic, but more two-dimensional.
~ DUG.
Please do the survey to determine future rule sets.

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