Storm Warning: Unrated
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (21st February 2008).
The Film

If there's one thing I've learned from horror movies, it's that vacations are inherently a bad idea. It seems that no matter what part of the world you are vacationing in, there are always crazy locals to ruin your good time. It was true in "Deliverance" (1972), "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974), "Wolf Creek" (2005), "Donkey Punch" (2007) and the list goes on and on. Enter the latest film to make you never want to leave your home town again; "Storm Warning".

"Storm Warning" tells the story of Pia (Nadia Farès) and Rob (Robert Taylor), a couple on a romantic getaway in the outback of Australia. They rent a boat in an attempt to escape their city lives and to just enjoy nature. Of course, the good times stop rolling in, and Pia and Rob find themselves washed down an eerie stream, into the heartland of crazy-outback-hillbilly territory. When looking for someone to help them back to a main road, they find a house owned by brothers Jimmy (David Lyons) and Brett (Mathew Wilkinson). Jimmy and Brett are far from balanced, and their general hillbilliness soon dissolves into the threatening of rape and murder. Pia and Rob are taken prisoner by the brothers, and are offered to their Poppy (John Brumpton). Violence and gore ensue.

"Storm Warning" is presented under the banner of 'Dimension Extreme', a series of films self-proclaimed to be too "outer fringe" for general release. With that in mind, I was hoping that "Storm Warning" would offer me something I don't get to see in theaters. However, the film is just as tired and cliché as most horror movies that have come out in recent years. This shouldn't come as a surprise, as the film's director, Jamie Blanks, helmed the film "Urban Legend" (1998), which to me is a quintessential by-the-numbers horror movie. While I enjoyed the dialogue in the film's first twenty minutes, any sort of development of Pia and Rob as characters is thrown out the window to showcase just how crazy these hillbillies are. The villains of the film are also a huge problem. Jimmy, Brett, and Poppy feel more like caricatures than people I should be scared of. I feel as though the film's writer, Everett De Roche, tried too hard to make the brothers and their dad too weird, and they just came off as artificial. It's also hard to create dynamic characters in a movie with such trite dialogue. For example, during a scene where Pia channels her inner Kevin McCallister by creating an amazingly complex booby-trap for her captures, she says "My father once told me, to catch a mad dog you must think like a mad dog. Only madder."

When a horror movie lacks in character and plot substance, it will usually attempt to balance the difference with gore and violence. I honestly have no problem with that as an admitted gore-hound. However, the sweet kills come on too late in the film, and are too few in quantity. By the time we get to see some real damage done, I had already lost interest in the movie as a whole, which is saying something when the movie's run time is a paltry 82 minutes.

The one redeeming feature of this movie would have to be the direction. Yes, Jamie Blanks did direct "Urban Legend", but he has really grown in his craft for "Storm Warning". I found myself thinking "Well that's a really cool shot" multiple times during the course of the film. The film is rarely uninteresting to look at. I would love to see Blanks direct something with a decent script.

It is hard for me to recommend "Storm Warning" to anyone, whether you're looking for legitimate scares, interesting characters, or even just a juicy kill.

Video

The movie is offered in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is above average, sometimes appearing to be near-HD. However, there are some odd inconsistencies near the beginning of the film, where wide aerial shots are used with close up shots inside a car. For some reason, the color and picture quality here was off, but I would chalk it up to the two different shots being filmed with different cameras.

Audio

"Storm Warning" is offered in English 5.1 surround, with Spanish or English subtitles. I was a little disappointed with the sound mix for the film, feeling that the sheer lack of suspense could have been aided by stronger use of surround sound. In terms of quality though, the sound that was there came out clear.

Extras

For extras the disc offers a filmmaker audio commentary track, and some trailers. Below is a closer look.

There is the filmmaker audio commentary track, offering the thoughts of director Jamie Blanks, screenwriter Everett De Roche, executive producers Pete! Ford (the "!" is not a typo) and Mark Pennell, cinematographer Karl Von Moller, production designer Robby Perkins, and special effects artist Justin Dix. One of the most telling and first things mentioned on the track is that the movie was allegedly written thirty years ago, before "Wolf Creek", which the filmmakers know the film will be compared to. The commentary is a healthy mix of information and fun banter. You'll get to learn why a certain shot exists, and then you'll get a fun story about a boat sinking to go along with it. Watching the film with commentary is actually better than without. Sadly, the quality of the commentary's sound is lacking at best, with a ton of white noise in the background.

Next up is the theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 26 seconds and a teaser trailer for 1 minute 9 seconds for the film are offered. Both are quite creepy and atmospheric, making the movie look much better than it actually was.

The movie has some start-up bonus trailers when you first pop in the disc. They are for:

- "The Mist" which runs for 2 minutes 52 seconds.
- "Furnace" which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.
- "Rob Zombie's Halloween" which runs for 2 minutes.
- "Black Sheep" which runs for 2 minutes.

Overall

The Film: D+ Video: A Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: C-

 


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