Thursday, July 3, 2008

Storm (2008)

Storm is a seemingly complex and multilayered film mixing elements like the down-the-rabbit-hole vibe of The Matrix, the futuristic feel of Blade Runner, the good vs. evil grand scale of the Night Watch trilogy, as well as incorporating comic books into the inventive plot.

Donny Davidson, known to his friends as DD (played by Eric Ericson), seems like an ordinary guy – he’s scared of commitment, into the club scene, dabbling in drugs and a bit of a loner. One night, he has a strange run-in with a redhead named Lova who is being chased by a group of black-clothed men. DD eventually comes into the possession of a small white box; a box that Lova tells him needs protecting and is a key to something only he can open.

As DD is blamed for a murder he didn’t commit and pursued by the cops, Lova shows him his past, where DD did things he isn’t proud of. In this surreal nightmare, DD watches his younger self rape his then 14-year-old girlfriend and lock his little brother in a crypt for days. All these memories, he’s told, are preparing him to open the mysterious box.

While in this dreamland, DD is approached by another figure, a man who is the leader of the black-clothed thugs that have been pursuing Lova. While Lova urges him to protect and eventually open the box, this man tells DD to not open the box and instead go back to his happy-go-lucky, ignorant existence.

With DD not knowing who to trust, will he open the box to reveal what’s inside or will he give up the surreal quest and go back to his old life?

Storm was recently released by TLA Releasing and After Dark Films for the first time stateside, even though it was released in its home country of Sweden in 2005. Its engaging story and well-developed characters, as well as its intriguing atmosphere, makes it well worth the wait!

The mysterious box has really been misconstrued and misinterpreted by other reviewers and even the DVD description is a bit misleading…In my interpretation it does not hold the fate of the entire world or the secrets to the universe. The box represents DD’s own repressed existence and when he is told not to lose it because it would spell certain doom, it means that it would be catastrophic for him, not the world’s population. The struggle between the two sides of good and evil is left purposefully ambiguous by the filmmakers. We’re not sure which side to trust and we are given the impression that there is no clear-cut, black and white distinction between the two sides. Of course, many can find deep meaning in these two figures, as well as the character of DD himself and others throughout the film, should they choose to.

Aside from the philosophical merits of the film, it also looks amazing! Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein with cinematographer Linus Sandgren did a fine job lensing the film. The streets of Stockholm are dark, foreboding and gritty with a touch of sleaze, while DD’s trip into his own past is equally dark. His hometown, devoid of all people, is shrouded in fog and the streets are filled with dead leaves and debris while the surrounding buildings are in various states of decay (think Silent Hill). The cinematography is stunning; especially a scene involving a young boy crushing someone’s glasses into the pavement that packs quite the emotional wallop.

The acting is also stupendous, with each of the characters giving multi-layered performances. Throughout the film, you’re not sure who exactly to root for…at first you’re gunning for DD, but when his terrible past is revealed you can’t help but revile him. Lova seems to have DD’s best interests at heart, but does she really? The man in black certainly doesn’t seem to think so. This constant fluctuating loyalty between characters only makes you more intrigued and the storyline that much more mysterious, with each of the actors successfully contributing to those feelings.

My only warning is that Storm is not the kind of film for a mainstream audience, especially one that expects heaps of blood and guts. The gore in Storm is nearly nonexistent, with just a few instances where blood is shed. Instead of horror, this is more of a surreal thriller or smart action film. There are several very cool fights between Lova and the men in black, but when it boils down to it Storm is more character driven than anything else. Writer Måns Mårlind (who also co-directed) made sure to pay careful attention to his characters and developed them accordingly. He draws us into his story with his character development, but keeps us hooked with the increasingly interesting plot.

With beautifully slick cinematography and an exciting storyline that blends action with philosophical questions, Storm is definitely one movie you’ll want to weather.

Available from Amazon!

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