Mother Nature can create a living hell on our planet, but the sheer will to survive can make almost any ordeal bearable. Infinite Storm is a movie that tells the story of a dire circumstance that pitted two individuals into a desperate battle between surviving their situation or falling victim to the storm’s wrath that surrounds them. The movie is based on a true story that details the struggles of one woman’s attempts to rescue a man trapped in the high altitudes of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. This is a slow-burning movie that encompasses the strengths of its actors and a breathless sense of scale in the adverse conditions of Mother Nature.
The movie opens with Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) waking up just as the sun rises. She gets herself ready for the day and packs her hiking backpack for all the essential items she will need, including food, extra clothing, water, and several thermoses containing hot cocoa. She plans to make her six-hour loop across Mount Washington by reaching its peak and returning home. Even though the weather report warns of an impending storm and below-freezing conditions, Pam is determined to make her trek regardless.
She is an avid hiker but also a Search and Rescue volunteer. The area that she will be hiking on this fateful day is known for experiencing horrid weather conditions, as signs in the area make abundantly clear. Early in her hike, the weather is fine, and nothing suggests that things will worsen, but anyone familiar with the weather knows not to take the calm conditions for granted. Taking place in November, one must be prepared for a sudden weather change especially considering the possibility of heavy snow and a sudden drop in temperature. Pam proudly wears her tank top while hiking and aptly changes when the conditions change.
During this time, Pam encounters something that she didn’t expect; a lone set of footprints in the snow as the storm starts to bear down. Pam is more than prepared to handle these conditions, but since the footprints have the appearance of someone wearing tennis shoes, that person may be in trouble. Sure enough, Pam follows the footprints and finds a lone man sitting by himself on the verge of freezing to death. The man is unable to communicate with Pam, and his appearance suggests that he may already have frostbite. She calls him “John” (Billy Howle) and leaps into action by assisting him in every way she can. She removes his wet clothes and gives him her backup pair, and rushes to raise his body temperature so that he can get up and move off the mountain before the conditions make it impossible to escape.
This movie is a slow-burning exercise that may prove tedious to audiences, but it feels as if the filmmakers wanted to emphasize the amount of time that elapses between these two. Minutes feel like hours. Hours feel like days, and the struggle for both of them to survive feels like an eternity or an infinite amount of time, if you will. Both Watts and Howle give tremendous performances here, and I felt the pain these two went through especially hearing the howling sounds of the wind and the excessive snow hitting them in the face.
Credit has to be given to co-director Michal Englert, who served as the film’s cinematographer. The establishing shots, the camera work, and the lighting are put to good effect here. Additionally, co-director Malgorzata Szumowska does a good job telling the story and allowing the audience to follow in the footsteps of these two people struggling to survive. Unfortunately, the film’s script is lacking in substance. The film’s ending is rather traditional, and when compared to other films regarding survival, this movie feels just decent. Sure, we get the idea of what’s occurring, but the script by Josh Rollins doesn’t feel complete. Personally, I wanted more out of the film and would’ve been happy if the movie did more to expand the story on which this is based from. This isn’t to say that the movie is bad, but this movie may feel boring to watch for the casual observer.
Score 3 out of 5
Despite the simple enough script and incredible cinematography, Infinite Storm is just a decent enough survival movie to recommend. The performances by Watts and Howle are a definite highlight, and I was enthralled by all the danger and hell that they went through. The film is fantastic to look at, but you may find that reading the story from which this is based is far more engaging and exciting than the film itself. That isn’t to say that I disliked the film, but at the very least, I wasn’t clutching my seat during the intense moments either, something which is normal to experience in movies such as these.