What is it about films featuring extreme weather that’s so comforting? Is it that it makes us feel safe and warm? Or is it more that the films that feature these bouts of disastrous weather are all the more action-packed, the plot dramatically driven forward by the severe circumstances under which the characters have to operate?
It’s far more likely to be the latter, and that’s why for the release of Geostorm on October 20 we’ve pulled together our top 10 films where a spot of bad weather is a key theme – from Sharknado, to The Ice Storm, we’ve got every genre covered!
10. Sharknado (2013)
A nice low-brow, straight-to-TV actioner to kick us off – let’s make no bones about this, Sharknado is not a good film. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t goddamn enjoyable. Not only does this film feature a tornado, there are sharks actually getting sucked up into the tornado. Are you hooked yet? You should be. Incredibly self-aware, the Sharknado franchise has to be applauded purely for the originality of the names of the instalments. Obviously a lot of thought must has gone into the naming of Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014), not to mention Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (2015). And lest we forget The 4th Awakens (2016) and Global Swarming (2017). For the titling alone, Sharknado firmly deserves a place on this list.
9. The Mist (2007)
Now we’re getting into more serious territory. Based on the novel by Stephen King, and written and directed by Frank Darabont, the eponymous mist is so much more than a low-hanging cloud. The Mist follows a group of terrified survivors who find shelter in a local grocery store from the mist that has suddenly descended upon their town. But far from being a mere thick fog, they soon realise that the mist is filled with strange and terrifying creatures. And with a classic King ending that offers no hope and no redemption, this is one that is sure to stay with you.
8. The Perfect Storm (2000)
So maybe it’s not the perfect film, but it sure is the perfect storm. Although The Perfect Storm has never found critical approval, there’s still something enjoyable about watching an all-star cast yell dramatically through rain and get blown about aboard the deck of a fishing ship. Although the film’s plot is marred by a series of poor decisions (of course it’s a good idea to sail straight through the storm… ), there’s no denying that the special effects – which back in 2000 were pretty impressive – and enthusiastic performances from George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg make this a more than worthwhile watch.
7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
It would be impossible to talk about extreme weather without discussing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. After all, forget rain and sharks – this film features food falling from the sky! Although the film becomes slightly worthy at times (honestly, when you’re watching a film about burger rain, you’re not really that fussed about the important life lessons), it’s random, quirky, and a hell of a lot of fun.
6. Ice Age (2002)
So maybe this shouldn’t be considered an extreme weather film – however, there’s no denying that the plot of Ice Age is driven forward by the onslaught of the… well, Ice Age. And honestly, who cares when the main characters are a mammoth, a sloth and a sabre tooth tiger who join forces to return a cute baby to its tribe. Laugh-out-loud funny and just plain silly, there’s a lot of joy to be found in the heart-warming banter of this franchise.
5. The Ice Storm (1997)
The definition of a slow-burner, The Ice Storm explores the trials and tribulations of a seemingly wholesome family over Thanksgiving, as an ice storm brews to strain relations further. The perfect example of pathetic fallacy, the storm becomes a metaphor for the increasingly cold relations between the main characters – from the husband, who seeks companionship by cheating on his wife, to their cynical children who are battling their own internal struggles. Ang Lee’s Ice Storm is a beautiful mix of humour and intense scrutiny of the breakdown of family life.
4. The Revenant (2015)
As if surviving a brutal bear attack wasn’t enough, Leonardo DiCaprio is forced to battle through a vicious winter to win his revenge in Alejandro Iñárritu’s slow-burning drama, The Revenant. Gaping, bloody wounds are made all the more intense by the snow’s stark contrast. Add to this the relentless soundtrack and the overwhelming history lesson, and you have a film that tests its audience’s endurance levels to the max. But in a good way.
3. Into the Wild (2007)
It’s less the extreme weather and more the depiction of the harshness of nature that has earned Into the Wild’s place in the top 10. Telling the true story of Christopher McCandless as he travels deep into the wilderness of Alaska, it is ultimately the changing seasons that cause his demise. As he realises he is trapped by a wide river, made deeper by the melting snow, Into the Wild becomes a comment on the ferocity (and beauty) of nature, and how it can be just as unforgiving as mainstream society.
2. The Shining (1980)
Set in a desolate hotel in the height of winter, the events of The Shining wouldn’t have been nearly so horrifying if the family under siege weren’t so hopelessly cut off from the outside world by the adverse weather conditions. Not to mention the final scenes, where Danny evades his murderous father by retracing his footprints in the snow, only for Jack (Nicholson) to freeze into an eerie grimace. As the second Stephen King offering in this list, there’s one thing for sure – King sure does love to use weather to intensify the horror of his novels.
1. Fargo (1996)
A man sits at his table eating breakfast. His heavily pregnant wife prepares herself for work around him, putting on her snow boots, readying herself for the cold outside. The camera stays with the man as he calmly eats his breakfast, while out in the periphery you can see his wife trudge out to the car, attempt to start it, and trudge back inside through the heavy Minnesota snow. This is the one scene that has earned Fargo’s top spot. Simple, yes. But without the added difficulty of the weather conditions, it’s hard to imagine how this black comedy would have retained its charm. The Coen brothers at their finest.