Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SyFy vs The Mynd: Lightning Strikes (2009)

As if working for a crazy idiot mayor (Todd Jensen) weren’t enough for one man, sheriff Bradley (Kevin Sorbo) of the charming US small town of Roscoe, Bulgaria, has to cope with a sudden increase in weirdness surrounding his home.

First, a highly peculiar lightning storm cuts a car in half that is carrying a woman we will later learn is called Nancy (Annabel Wright) and her teenage son, then gets up to chasing them, sucking both of them into another dimension whose sole inhabitant electrocutes the boy before dropping the two back on Earth where Nancy will spend the next half hour of the film unconscious until the plot calls her.

Then, glowering lightning-obsessed stranger Donovan (David Schofield) appears in town being all mysterious and gloomy, soon followed by meteorology professor and lightning research scientist )that’s a thing, right?) Conners (Jeff Harding) and his entourage (Robyn Addison and Tom Harper). Both men are on the hunt for exactly the kind of freak lightning that attacked Nancy and her son, and both are sure lightning is going to strike again in Roscoe quite soon. Conners wants to find out what kind of phenomenon this lightning actually is, while Donovan is out to destroy an Ancient Evil™ that once took his son from him, while it made himself immune against lightning in the process. Of course, this being a very traditional kind of SF/horror film, Donovan’s totally right, and Conners will be punished for his fiendish attempt to understand how the world surrounding him actually works.

Talking of “very traditional”, further problems will ensue when the mayor throws all warnings to evacuate the town before it’s too late in the wind because he won’t close down the annual pumpkin festival (which would make two potential German investors nervous). Let’s hope he’s going to be struck by lightning too, and soon, because he’s really annoying.

So, obviously, Gary Jones’s Lightning Strikes prefers, as so many SyFy movies do, the more traditional values of SF/horror, where the pseudo-mythological approach of ranting mania is somehow more worthwhile than to look at the world mildly more scientifically, but I’m not really down on the film for that, because bizarre ranting fits the outright silliness of the threat (however many slightly icky looking corpses the film may hold into the camera) better than any attempts at seriousness.

As with two thirds of all SyFy movies, it’s best to leave one’s brain out of the door while taking in Lightning Strikes, or at least those parts of one’s brain that get easily annoyed by mild silliness and outright stupidity. By now, my brain, is such a highly evolved organ it actually runs on this sort of thing. Or does so at least when the whole mess is presented, as it is here, with enough enthusiasm. Lightning Strikes throws bits of old SF/horror, some elements that might have come from a minor X-Files episode and a not particularly talented but fun cast at a script (co-written by David A. Prior himself!) that may not be much when it comes to the little things in filmmaking, like the drama and the sense, yet that does find its pleasure in building its own silly mythology (Erich von Däniken is surely disappointed he didn’t come up with it) on bits of actual mythology and packing it in your typical monster of the week shtick. For my tastes, it’s a fun little thing to watch on a Sunday morning. It’s not providing much intellectual fodder, but not every film needs to do that for me.

Of course, if you really want to put this much thought into the film, it is a bit disappointing how little the script makes of the fact that three of its major characters have all lost a close family member in a tragic manner, but really, it’s healthier to only ever be pleasantly surprised when these films do think this much than to be disappointed when they don’t.

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