Storm of the Century (1999)
Reviewed on 2008 January 16
I was underwhelmed the first time I watched this. It was stretched over several nights of network TV and the mood was punctured by so many commercials that I couldn’t get into it. Years later I saw a nice uninterrupted chunk of it while alone in the house, during a snowy afternoon no less. I realized that made a world of difference and was prompted to buy the DVD. It works but it needs the right environment because it’s more psychological horror than anything else.
The driving force of this is the idea of a stranger showing up, unbidden and somehow knowing your darkest secrets. This is an old plot device and it’s usually good and creepy, even if it’s used humorously. In Saki’s short story “Tobermory”, a cat acquires the power of speech and uses it to blab the indiscretions of the stuffy guests at a garden party. That was funny. There’s nothing funny about a demon built like a linebacker, showing up on your doorstep and knowing where you really were that night six years ago.
Andre Linoge (Colm Feore) is the unwelcome guest in Storm of the Century, and while we never learn exactly what he is (I vote demon), he ain’t human. He shows up during the worst storm to hit the New England island of Little Tall, settling in and demanding the islanders give him what he wants and rattling off the odd deep dark secret like something off the periodic table. The islanders are torn between fighting him, or giving him what he wants — whatever it is — in the hopes he’ll leave quietly as he promised. It doesn’t help that between the storm and all the dirty laundry being aired, the only people seeming to keep really clear heads are constable Mike Anderson (Tim Daly) and his buddy Alton Hatcher (Casey Siemaszko).
I think this Stephen King movie worked because it was so dark and had multiple layers, tossing banal evil like hypocrisy and groupthink in the mix with the supernatural. Once you watch this you’ll know why most people cringe at the thought of committees. The acting didn’t hurt a bit either. Tim Daly was very good and Feore makes this for me. It may drag a little, but the cinematography makes up for that too.
Three chocolate morsels.