Friday, August 1, 2008

Movie Review: Storm Warning (2007)

Storm Warning

Starring: Nadia Fares, John Brumpton, Robert Taylor, David Lyons, and Mathew Wilkinson

Directed by: Jamie Blanks

Written by: Everett De Roche

Production Company: Resolution Independent and Storm Warning Productions

Release Date: May 17, 2007 (Cannes Film Market in France); October 19, 2007 (Screamfest Film Festival in Hollywood, California)

Awards: Best Special Effects Makeup - Screamfest Film Festival

Rob and Pia are out fishing when a storm comes rolling in. In an attempt to avoid the storm, they get lost and eventually beached. Trying to find help, they come across a farmhouse. Despite no one answering the door, Rob and Pia let themselves inside to get out of the rain and try to find the phone. What they find is torment at the hands of brothers Brett and Jimmy and the head of the household...Poppy.

These Urban stranger versus Rural/backwoods/redneck/mutant family movies can be either really good or really bad. The torturous family can easily slip into camp rather than menace. Sometimes the gore can overwhelm the film, and sometimes the victims are so annoying that you are actually glad to see them slaughtered. Luckily, Storm Warning does it right.

Pia and Rob are a bit annoying at the beginning. They truly are the idiotic city folk that don't realize just how far in over the head they get themselves. But once Pia takes over, the annoyance disappears. Pia needs to be the decision maker in that marriage.

Nadia Fares, in the role of Pia, plays a convincing, stereotypical wife following her husband's lead, but she really steals the show when she decides that she's had enough and it's time to get away from the hillbilly family. She evens asks her hubby, "What are you going to do?", less a question and more an accusation of powerlessness. I'd like to see her as the survivor girl in more horror films.

Playing inept, supine Rob is Robert Taylor. The bumbling barrister is frustrating, but Taylor handles the role well. He plays both the arrogant, in control Rob, and then the helpless, ineffectual Rob equally convincing.

Dope growing brothers Jimmy and Brett are played by David Lyons and Mathew Wilkinson respectively. Wilkinson plays the slightly simple younger brother deftly, but he gets overshadowed by David Lyons. Lyons is the star villain in Storm Warning despite efforts to make Poppy the most menacing of the trio. Jimmy appears congenial in an off putting sort of way, noxious with alcohol dribbling down his chin, fearful of Poppy, and downright threatening throughout the film, and Lyons's ability to convey these different aspects of Jimmy is impressive.

But over the brothers looms Poppy, played by John Brumpton. Brumpton was able to show us the strong, forceful Poppy well, but failed to make him truly forbidding. He was just an abusive, alcoholic father without the touch of psycho that both Mathew Wilkinson and David Lyons brought to their roles.

While I wonder what the title has to do with the movie, other than a storm pushing the victims into the hands of their captors, Storm Warning proves itself to be an admirable, though not wholly original or substantial, film.

Nadia Fares hasn't returned to horror yet, but she starring in the 2007 thriller (which some people claim Storm Watch is) War starring Jet Li and Jason Statham.An FBI Agent seeks vengeance on a mysterious assassin known as "Rogue" who murdered his partner.

John Brumpton hasn't returned to horror either, but will star next in the Australian drama The Beautiful and the Damned about twenty something trust fund kid Anthony Patch and his party girl wife Gloria Gilbert are disinherited by their wealthy benefactor grandfather and their lives spiral out of control in a blizzard of drugs, sex and eventual violence. Based on the novel by F.Scott Fitzgerald. As far as I know, this film has not been released yet in Australia.

Robert Taylor's next horror film was Rogue about an American journalist on assignment in the Australian outback encountering a man-eating crocodile. It won the Australian Film Institute's Best Visual Effects award and was nominated by the Australian Writers' Guild for an original feature film award. Taylor's next film will be Coffin Rock, a thriller about a woman unable to conceive a child with her husband, despite years of trying. In a desperate and drunken mistake, she sleeps with a young stranger. Determined to prove his paternity, his intentions soon become terrifyingly psychotic and the young woman finds herself at the centre of a psychological and brutally physical battle which she must win if she is to survive and have the family she longs for.
David Lyons currently stars in the Australian television show "Sea Patrol".

Mathew Wilkinson has not acted in film since Storm Warning.

Jamie Blanks's next film will be a remake of the 1978 horror Long Weekend where a vacationing couple in the wilderness learns what happens when they disrespect nature.

Everett De Roche has been writing Australian horror scripts for a long time including the aforementioned 1978 Long Weekend as well as Razorback from 1984, which I saw edited on television once. I'll be renting that blast from the past to see how it's supposed to look. De Roche's next films include the remake of his own film Long Weekend, Nine Miles Down about Thomas "Jack" Jackman a security patrolman, battles through the high winds of a sandstorm to find out why all contact with the station has been lost. Originally built for gas exploration, and then abandoned, the site had recently been taken over by a multi-national research team intent on drilling deeper into the earth's crust than ever before, and comic book adaptation The Witchblade about a female detective who fights crime with a mystical and powerful weapon. Long Weekend and Nine Miles Down will be released in Australia and the United Kingdom respectively sometime in 2008. The Witchblade is scheduled for release in the US in 2009.

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