Firenado (2022) Review
Dr. Devlin (Toby Wynn-Davies, Nefarious, The Ghosts of Borley Rectory) is on the verge of a breakthrough. I’m not entirely sure what his techno-babble means, even his intern Anna (Sian Altman, The Curse of Humpty Dumpty, Croc!) suggests he repeat it in English. Whatever it is it has something to do with controlling a tornado. Of course, it does just the opposite and soon the twister is not only growing at an alarming rate, it’s on fire as well.
Not everyone sees this as a bad thing, however. A gang of thieves sees it as the perfect distraction to let them rob the house of Pierce Moore (Daniel Godfrey, Island of the Dolls, Dirty Games). He’s a mob accountant who not only gets deliveries of literal boxes of cash, he’s the proud owner of the worst Southern accent in history. Of course, Devlin, Anna, and Devlin’s assistant Helena (Nicola Wright, The Killing Tree, Spider in the Attic) end up at Moore’s house just in time to be caught between the thieves and the firenado.
The publicity for Firenado references Geostorm and The Day After Tomorrow, but writer Tom Jolliffe (Renegades, When Darkness Falls) and co-directors Rhys Frake-Waterfield (The Area 51 Incident, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey) and Scott Jeffrey (Cannibal Troll, Exorcist Vengeance) seem to be channeling something different.
If Irwin “The Master of Disaster” Allen (The Towering Inferno, When Time Ran Out) had lived long enough to produce some of the mega disaster films that were a staple of SyFy back when it was still The Sci-Fi Channel the results would have been something like Firenado. In fact, it shares a few similarities with his made-for-TV film Fire! which featured criminals using a forest fire as a diversion.
While the film’s first half is formulaic and a bit slow as the tornado gets created and does some token damage to establish itself as a threat. But the second half picks up the pace with a turn into crime thriller territory before the firenado reclaims the spotlight.
Part of what makes it work so well is a way over-the-top performance by Matthew Marcelis (Camerawoman, Beneath the Surface) as the psychotic Tommy. In one perversely funny scene, Moore is threatened with the death of his maid, “I’ll fucking kill her!”. Tommy cheerfully echoes the sentiment and then does kill her, beaming with pride, too dense to realize he just took their bargaining chip away.
Along with that performance, Vince Knight’s (Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, Midnight Peep Show) cinematography helps make the most of the scenes in Moore’s darkened mansion. It’s one of the few times one of Jeffrey’s productions has more than simple, bare-bones cinematography and it’s a nice change.
Of course, since it is a Scott Jeffrey film Firenado does have some of the usual problems. While a bit better than usual for one of his films, the CGI is still weak. And several deaths happen off-screen to void the cost of showing them. Worst of all the need to keep the cast small means that Anna and Moore have to be merciful to the point of stupidity. With the home invasion consisting of only three men, they have to keep knocking them out rather than killing them when they have the chance.
Overall though, Firenado has more going for it than against it. Yes, it’s as much a crime film as it is a disaster film and could have used more scenes of destruction. But it makes good use of what it has and the results make for a diverting eighty minutes.
Uncork’d Entertainment will release Firenado to VOD and Digital Platforms on January 3rd. DVDs will follow on February 14th.