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'Into the Storm' review: 'Sharknado' without the jokes

Clockwise from foreground, Max Deacon, Richard Armitage, and

Clockwise from foreground, Max Deacon, Richard Armitage, and Nathan Kress in a scene from "Into The Storm." Credit: AP / Ron Phillips

Remember "camp"? It's the stuff that's so bad, it's good: deadly serious, hopelessly square, humorless, oblivious. Real camp, like "Reefer Madness" or "Xanadu," barely exists anymore. When Hollywood began making it on purpose -- "Snakes on a Plane," for instance -- the game was up. These days, even genuinely bad movies don't seem that funny anymore.

But wait! "Into the Storm," a disaster flick from Steven Quale, doesn't know any of that. This movie must have been underground when "Sharknado" dropped and made a laughingstock of its entire genre. But "Into the Storm" strides into multiplexes today as if its closest competition were 1974's "Earthquake."

Set up as a compendium of first-person videos (but with a brow-knitting score by Brian Taylor), "Into the Storm" is set in Silverton, a geographically vague town full of cardboard people. We meet high school vice principal Gary Fuller (Richard Armitage) and his two sons (Max Deacon, Nathan Kress), plus their pretty classmate Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Rumbling into town in the tanklike Titus vehicle are mercenary storm-chaser Pete Moore (Matt Walsh) and softhearted meteorologist Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies). Donk and Reevis, the local "Jackass" types, are played too convincingly by Kyle Davis and John Reep.

Why is Silverton being pummeled by freak tornadoes? "What used to be a once-in-a-lifetime storm now happens about once a year," says Allison, though even climate change defenders might snort when she somberly warns that Los Angeles is next.

Right about here, "Into the Storm" goes from merely lousy to wildly bad. The laws of physics are chucked to the wind. One twister becomes a flaming column -- a hellnado -- while others lift passenger jets off the tarmac. None, however, can catch a speeding school bus, trip up a running father or loosen the grip of a high-school boy.

"Into the Storm" maintains a straight face through every ludicrous minute. No spoilers, but there's only one way this movie can end: With tributes to the fallen and a fluttering American flag.

PLOT The good folks of Silverton try to survive a multiple tornado onslaught.


CAST Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh


BOTTOM LINE "Sharknado" without the jokes.

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