Storm Warning Review
Horror is a genre, that even when made on a relatively modest budget can still actually be quite effective. If it isn't done well? Well, it's quite simply and more often than not going to end up becoming a second rate affair. On the other hand horror movies remain quite peculiar in the sense that even a pretty poor effort can still somehow eventually become something of a cult. So, whenever I watch a low-budget horror movie, I do so with much trepidation. Simply put you never know what you're going to get. It's a strange genre indeed.
Rob Brewer (Robert Taylor) is a lawyer and Pia (Nadia Fares) is his beautiful French wife. They're clearly middle class yuppies on a nice day out and the film starts with them driving down to the bay. They've decided to hire a small boat for the day to simply sail around and romantically explore the area of Westernport Bay. As they sail around, admiring the natural beauty surrounding them, they venture farther and farther away from the bay and into the swamp beyond. Unsurprisingly, they've soon lost their bearings and in no time at all find themselves quite lost. It's all part of the adventure of a day out in the wilderness and they continue haplessly onwards but to no avail.
The weather slowly begins to deteriorate, the day darkens and the more they try to explore the swamp for a way out they eventually run into further trouble when the boats outboard motor jams up in the shallow water. All of this lead in or intro to the story takes you 15-20 minutes into the film and I have to say it's pure B-movie stuff up to this point. The acting is generally very wooden and quite poor up to this point and there is generally no sense of purpose to the film. Worse still there is precious little to draw you into the story and it wouldn't surprise me that many of you would be looking for the 'off' button at this point. However, I would suggest to resist that urge as it's worth persevering with for what is to come beyond.
Once the Brewers realise that they are actually completely lost they decide to quit the boat and get onto land and hope to find their way back somehow through other means. They don't realise it but they're actually on French Island, which is north of the bay where they had set sail. It's getting darker and the storm is increasingly becoming more threatening and they still have no idea of where they are headed. Isn't it always a wonder why mobile phones stop working when you need them most ? Theirs is no different, it's a horror film and it's a predictable twist, no signal, no contact.
Luckily they soon find a small road and see a pick-up truck parked with its lights on. As they approach it hoping to get a lift to somewhere safe, they witness a guy being severely beaten to a pulp. Not wishing to get involved with the incident they quickly and quietly head on. Thankfully for them and soon after, they see some other lights from what appears to be an old farmhouse and they head there for shelter and safety. What they don't realise is that this is no ordinary farmhouse. It's the hillbillies' house from hell.
It's a pitiful building and appears to be in a desperate and deserted state. Unwittingly they take it upon themselves to enter, wander around and try to find someone or a phone to use at least. The place is nothing short of a sty and it's really not fit for human inhabitants, but it's clear someone does live there. It also isn't too long before they stumble around the back and into a shed that's full of cannabis plant. Well, they're not stupid and they realise that they're in the wrong place at the wrong time and low and behold the owners suddenly return home to find these two unwelcome visitors loitering around their property.
The storyline becomes rather like Goldilocks from now on and it basically all becomes a case of “who do we have here and who's been tampering with my cannabis?” The three bears in this case turn out to be three psychopathic, misogynistic, sexually depraved hillbillies.
Whilst the first 15-20 minutes had been very poor, the film does to its credit pick up well from this point onwards. The three hillbillies are comprised of father Poppy (John Brumpton) along with his two sons Jimmy (David Lyons) and Brett (Matthew Wilkinson). Jimmy and Brett take it upon themselves to 'entertain and be hospitable' to their guests as only true psychopaths would do. A bit of torture, sexual humiliation and breaking peoples legs is their idea of light evening entertainment. The terror increases twice-fold when Poppy awakens from his drunken stupor and joins in on the fun. However, his idea of later evening fun is drawn out of sexual bestiality. Let's not go there, he's basically a sicko and a complete nutter; enough said.
Rob and Pia try to escape but soon realise that they're only going to manage this by having to face these three madmen head on, as well as deal with an equally mad Rottweiler. The film now follows quite a predictable course and events unfold as would do in any other horror film that has come before it . The real surprise though in all of this is Pia (Nadia Fares) who really does carry the film off from this point. Sure, it's all clichéd horror stuff but she really does put her all into it and her performance holds everything together in what appears a fairly strong casting. The weak link in the casting and performance is probably Robert Taylor, but his involvement in the second half of the film is very secondary to his wife's antics. Storm Warning has surprisingly plenty of gore in store for fans of the graphically starved but it's never overly glorified. There is enough there to make most viewers wince and squirm but the suspense and tension of horror are also right up there through to the sickly end.
It's clear that this film was made on a budget. The whole thing lacks originality, borrows off other films and shares similarities with many other horror films of its own ilk; Wolf Creek and Texas Chainsaw Massacre spring to mind. What is also quite at odds about this film is its title and the relationship that has to the film itself? Yes, there is indeed a bad weather warning and a storm continually brewing in the background throughout the film. However, the story really has precious little to do with the weather, if anything at all. Confusing indeed.
As far as I'm concerned the movie could have equally been called 'One Sunny Day'. Oh well, I suppose a title like that wouldn't have sounded sinister enough for a horror film or appealing enough for horror fans to want to watch. Title or no title it's the content that counts and quite surprisingly if you get past the first 15 minutes the remaining 70 minutes are not bad. Storm Warning is certainly a B-movie but as a film it's actually not that bad at all.