Storm Warning

Storm Warning (2007)
★★ / ★★★★

Rob (Robert Taylor) and Pia (Nadia Farès) are on a lovely vacation. They decide to rent a boat, do a bit of fishing, and relax in the stillness of the water. But when a sudden storm disrupts their harmonious trip, they are forced to take refuge on the nearest island. They see a house and assume nobody is home. They assume incorrectly and the couple is caught trespassing. With their luck, the house happens to be inhabited by three sick men with a thirst for violence: a father (John Brumpton) and his two sons, Jimmy (David Lyons) and Brett (Mathew Wilkinson).

“Storm Warning,” written by Everett De Roche and directed by Jamie Blanks, limps from the starting line. I was not all that interested in the couple because they are almost too perfect: she is a successful artist and he is a thriving lawyer. Other than their names and careers, we learn nothing particularly interesting about them. Even when they get to the island, tension is lacking. Breaking into someone’s house should have been a last resort. Are there pay phones that they can use somewhere nearby? Is there a lighthouse?

But then something happens in the middle. Just when I thought it is going to be an exploitation movie, considering the three strangers’ main goal is to rape Pia, undertones of feminism begin to surface. Brett breaks Rob’s leg and is rendered useless in the couple’s attempt to escape. It is up to Pia to set up traps inside the barn, where they are kept overnight, and another special trap just in case the three demented men get the urge to force her. It surprised me with its creativity; I will never see fish hooks and fishing lines the same way.

Admittedly, I enjoyed the picture’s message more than the formulaic chase scenes. With so many movies that show men rescuing women from danger, it is refreshing to watch the men being stereotypes for a change. Rob is reduced to sitting around, crying out in pain, and limping while Jimmy, Brett, and Poppy experience all sorts of painful trials in their failed attempts to get their filthy hands on the girl.

The second half is fun to watch due to its manic energy but the first half has a wide room for improvement. Instead of showing Rob and Pia having picture-perfect lives, it might have been nice to see that their relationship is somewhat strained. Perhaps Rob has his own way of being condescending to his girlfriend. Maybe Pia picks up on his judgments but she does not have the courage–or just is not willing to put in the energy–to confront the situation. That way, the theme’s building blocks are established prior to Pia taking charge and desperately fighting for her life.

“Storm Warning” is bloody and violent but it need not have taken itself so seriously. Sure, the characters do not always make the smartest decisions–like giving an assailant suffering from a wound a second chance to get up–but bad choices can be played for laughs at the right moments. It takes a bit of instinct and willingness from the filmmakers to embrace such risks.

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