Monday, May 5, 2008

Storm Warning (2007)

Following in the snooze-inducing footsteps of Aussie film Wolf Creek, Storm Warning revels in its repugnant, uncomfortable scenes of abuse while seemingly forgetting a full-length film needs a story to support its 1 ½ hour run-time.

An Australian couple decides to go boating one day and rents a small fishing boat. After a bit of fishing they decide to sail through some nearby marshes, but soon get lost. With an approaching storm and night quickly falling, they abandon the boat to find help and a lift back to the mainland. They find an old, empty farmhouse, but the barn is full of marijuana plants. Before they can get away from the drug dealers, the owners, a vile family of hillbillies that include a father and his two sons, arrive home. They are none too pleased to find interlopers inside their dwelling and are soon making the couple’s life a living hell. Can the couple escape the brutal captors?

First off, the wimpy and annoying lead male did nothing to arouse pity or sympathy. His stupid choices (not turning the boat around when a storm approached, getting lost, deciding to approach the hillbilly house, etc.) are what get them into trouble. When they became prisoners of the hillbillies, he really didn’t try and fight back, even when they humiliated and fondled his girlfriend. The good this is that she actually took charge and kicked enough ass for the both of them. As for the villains, they were never scary. We saw and heard far too much of them to make them intimidating or scary. They just ended up being your standard redneck weirdos with bad hygiene and an affinity for violence.

As for the story, you’ve seen in all before (in much better films) and sadly, there’s nothing new added to Storm Warning to make it stand out. It features the same characters in the same scenario you’ve seen countless times over. There are no twists and no surprises to alleviate the painful boredom experienced while watching this movie.

The scenes of humiliation the couple is forced to endure are really nothing new to the genre and there are much more brutal films that are done better than this one. So don’t let my statement of “repugnant, uncomfortable scenes of abuse” titillate you – there’s not anything groundbreaking or truly shocking shown here if you are a genre fan.

There is only one scene in the whole film that sticks out. There is a part where the couple is locked in a tool shed and the female gets all crafty and MacGyver-ish, setting up a wicked trap for the hillbillies involving fish hooks. Besides the fact that the scene requires you to suspend your belief awfully high, the end result of the trap is pretty cool to see. Despite that one flash-in-the-pan, though, the rest of the movie drags.

Director Jamie Blank’s other directorial efforts include genre films Urban Legend and Valentine, which were fun, if a little mediocre, films. With Storm Warning, though, it feels like he has stepped into the mean-spirited and over-played “torture porn” subgenre. His earlier films evoke the fun of the slasher film heyday of the 80’s, but Storm Warning fails to capture the grittiness of the 70’s exploitation films it was trying to emulate.

The tedious script, written by Everett de Roche, doesn’t help with its unlikable characters making stupid decisions and stereotypical villains. Within the first five minutes you pray that the two annoying leads are headed towards a painful death and the dull villains are just begging for an ass-whuppin’!

Storm Warning delivers just ONE worthy scene in its entire 80 minute running time. The rest is the same old backwoods hogwash we’ve seen a million times before, only in much better films. Better films that feature characters we actually care about, a multi-layered story that features surprises and twists, harrowing scenes and frightening villains. Storm Warning has none of those key components and fails miserably because of that.

The only frightening thing about the film is that I actually sat through it (I will admit pushing the fast forward button on more than one occasion, though). The good news is that now you don’t have to!!

Available from Amazon!

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