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There's no avoiding this storm
Storm Warning (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Storm Warning (DVD)
Advantages: Very creepy at times, gory, lead actress great
Disadvantages: Some will find it too gory, could have been better
Pia and Rob, an Australian couple, decide to spend the day fishing, but then end up drifting towards a swamp where, because of a coming storm, they are forced to seek shelter. Miraculously, they find a farmhouse and knock on the door for help. There is no-one there, but the door is open and so they go in to find a phone. Then the owners come home - and they are not happy. Brothers Jimmy and Brett are furious that the couple have just walked in and refuse to offer them any help, claiming that they have no phone and that the storm means they are stranded for the time being. When Poppy, their father, arrives, Pia and Rob realise that they are not going to be able to escape the farmhouse, storm or no storm, especially when Rob takes a bullet to the leg and Pia is threatened with rape. Then Pia comes to her senses and decides that she is not going to go down without a fight. Will it be enough to save them? Will she have to undergo rape in order to live?
This is an Australian film that seems to be little known over here, which is a great shame. Although it is no classic, it is a well-made film with some good performances and special effects. The highlight of the film is undoubtedly Nadia Fares as Pia. With her French accent and model looks, she initially comes across as spoiled and irritating and I presumed that she was going to be a character to whom the viewer wouldn't be sorry to say goodbye. That all changes when she is put under pressure and she rises to the challenge beautifully. It's a pleasant change to see a woman kick butt in this sort of film, and whereas some of her escapades are pushing the boundaries of realism a little too far, she is very entertaining to watch. She doesn't lose her femininity though either, which, considering what she has to do, is quite amazing. For once, this is a horror film character that is actually likable.
Her husband Rob, played by Robert Taylor, is less impressive, but then he isn't supposed to be. Sidelined fairly early in the film, he doesn't have the chance to do much more than look like he's in pain while he watches his wife go beserk. This helps to highlight Pia's incredible actions, so it isn't really a bad thing. The mad family, made up of Jimmy, Brett and Poppy, are all excellent. Poppy, played by John Brumpton is truly terrifying; his evil apparently knowing no bounds. Jimmy (David Lyons) wasn't much better, especially when he seems to soften at one point, only to come back even stronger. Brett (Mathew Wilkinson) is slightly simple and does appear to be won over by Pia at one point, seeming to add a potential escape route. As a family, they were amazingly sadistic, lived like pigs, and were incredibly realistic, which really adds to the whole atmosphere of the film.
The main reason that the film has become a quiet favourite amongst many horror fans is that it is chock-full of gore scenes. This perhaps shouldn't have been a surprise, bearing in mind that the director, Jamie Blanks, also directed Urban Legend. Nevertheless, Storm Warning is a cut above Urban Legend - at least in my book. Considering this is such a low budget film, the special effects are impressive - not perfect, but very fitting and believable. Some of the most horrible scenes involve a contraption made of wire and flying farm tools that attacks one of them, stretching his skin in ways that you wouldn't believe; a man with severe penis damage; and a dog eating someone's blood-strewn crotch. It isn't a pleasant watch and certainly isn't something you'd want to see while eating your dinner, but it is very well-done and fits in perfectly with the atmosphere. It is obviously not in the slightest bit appropriate for children, and thoroughly deserves its 18 rating.
Having said all that, it is really the atmosphere that makes the film. From the minute the couple drift in close to the swamp, surrounded by what look like mangrove trees with their trailing roots, there is a sense of eeriness, of no escape. Then the farmhouse, which is filthy and looks uninhabitable, furthers the suggestion of 'abandon hope all ye who enter here'. Although the gore is visually fascinating to watch, provided you don't mind that sort of thing, it wasn't all that necessary, because the feeling of claustrophobia before anything happens is actually more scary than anything else. However, when combined with the strange family and the violence that they emit, followed by all the bloody fighting, the result is a film that will satisfy many fans of horror and possibly some who enjoy thrillers that include violence.
The story is a very simple one. It has been done before; done to death in fact, so it is actually amazing that this film manages to bring a fresh angle to it. It doesn't result in an amazing film - few horrors are these days, because there just aren't that many surprises left - but it is a perfectly entertaining watch. The ending is no great surprise, but it could have gone a different way if the director was so inclined. The set is very basic, much of it takes place in the farmhouse or the nearby shed, but that is all that is needed and adds greatly to the claustrophic atmosphere.
There are a few extras. The first is a Behind the Scenes featurette. There is no narration, it is just made up of shots of how the film was made, particularly with reference to the make-up and special effects. It is quite effective though; there was clearly a great deal of work that went into making the film. Some of the special effects use very basic devices, but they have been very well integrated into the film, so that they always look realistic. There are cast interviews with the sadistic family members - it's perhaps worth a glance, but no more. Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.
I enjoyed this film. I went into it with low expectations, having read just a couple of reviews on it, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. The fact that the main character is a woman who doesn't just sit back and take what is thrown at her was appealing and I thought she gave a good performance. Australian film doesn't seem to reach these shores very often, which is a shame, because there are some worthwhile films that we're missing out on. If you like horror, then this is definitely worth a watch. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.
Running time: 86 minutes
Summary: Australian horror - and it's pretty good