Director – Steven R. Monroe, Screenplay – Andrew C. Erin, Story – Paul A. Birkett & Andrew C. Erin, Producer – Kirk Shaw, Photography – Anthony Metchie, Music – Michael Plowman, Visual Effects – Tinderbox (Supervisor – Michael Porterfield), Special Effects Supervisor – Al Benjamin, Production Design – Renee Read. Production Company – Insight Film Studios.
Mark Moses (Charlie Price), Camille Sullivan (Joanne Dyson), Kaj-Erik Eriksen (Eric), Robert Moloney (Frank O’Neil), Alex Zahara (Damon Jarwell), Ryan Kennedy (Gary), Luisa D’Oliveira (Ashley), Chelan Simmons (Nora Elman), Dion Johnstone (Bill), Nicholas Carella (Phil)
A team from the Federal Science Foundation is conducting an experiment using automated drones to create clouds. However, this goes wrong, resulting in the creation of an ice storm that abruptly hits the town of Harrisford, Oregon, freezing everything it touches. Charlie Pride, a former meteorological scientist now turned best-selling author with a series of lurid novels about meteorological disasters, is on a book-signing tour in Harrisford and sees the storm hit. As the team rushes to the scene, he recognises head scientist Joanne Dyson, an old colleague of his, and insists on tagging along. All over the countryside, ice tornadoes are abruptly appearing and freezing people and areas of land. Charlie deduces that the cloud seeding experiment had drawn moisture from the mesosphere, causing a vast influx of super-cold from above. As they try to stop the ice twisters before they get to a major urban centre by shutting the drones down, Joanne discovers that her military backers have locked her out of the system, seeking instead to test the weapons potential of the discovery.
The Syfy Channel disaster movie (principally from the Syfy Channel but also being made by other companies) has become a genre unto itself. Building on the formula of the 1970s disaster movie and in particular the ones of the 1990s and 2000s that redressed the old films with CGI effects, these offer up cut-price digital effects and depictions of disaster. In their search for creativity, the films have introduced wilder and more improbable science-fictional scenarios. (For a more detailed overview see my essay Disaster Movies).
Other titles include Path of Destruction (2005), The Black Hole (2006), Meltdown: Days of Destruction (2006), Lava Storm (2008), Annihilation Earth (2009), Megafault (2009), Polar Storm (2009), Ice Quake (2010), Meteor Storm (2010), Quantum Apocalypse (2010), Stonehenge Apocalypse (2010), Behemoth (2011), Collision Earth (2011), Earth’s Final Hours (2011), Mega Cyclone (2011), Seeds of Destruction (2011), Miami Magma (2011), Super Eruption (2011), Super Tanker (2011), 2012 Ice Age (2011), Alien Tornado (2012), Seattle Super Storm (2012), Eve of Destruction (2013), 500 MPH Storm (2013), Jet Stream (2013), 100° Below 0 (2013), Stonados (2013), Asteroid vs Earth (2014), Christmas Icetastrophe (2014), Crystal Skulls (2014), Firequake (2014), LA Apocalypse (2014), San Andreas Quake (2015), Stormageddon (2015), Geo-Disaster (2017) and Oceans Rising (2017).
One settles into Ice Twisters expecting all the formula of the typical Syfy Channel disaster movie – the canned pieces of drama, the cheap digital effects, the hero with the discredited theory who can save the day, the last minute attempts to save the situation. The set-up about a wave of supercold creating chaos is very similar to another film around the same time Arctic Blast (2010), while several others of these were also dealing with super-cold storm themes and/or the onsets of new Ice Ages.
On the other hand, Ice Twisters sort of surprises. While it never strays too far from the cheap and tatty basics of the Syfy Channel disaster movie, it does make the characters work with a certain degree of wit and sparkle. There is Mark Moses as the meteorologist turned author who is constantly making sardonic suggestions and rankling the regular scientists of the group. (The script makes a number of digs about him being a hack writer of a series of disaster novels about improbable meteorological scenarios, which treads a fine line given that Ice Twisters is itself a hack B budget meteorological disaster movie based around a scientifically improbable premise). This sparring and interplay at least gives the characters more depth than the usual stock cut-outs that we get in these Syfy Channel disaster movies and goes a good way towards disguising the routineness of the action and dramatic set-pieces happening around them.
Steven R. Monroe’s other genre films are:- The Contract (2002), House of 9 (2005), It Waits (2005), Left in Darkness (2006), Sasquatch Mountain (2006), Dual (2008), Ogre (2008), Storm Cell (2008), Wyvern (2009), I Spit on Your Grave (2010), Mongolian Death Worm (2010), Jabberwock (2011), MoniKa (2012), End of the World (2013), Grave Halloween (2013), I Spit on Your Grave 2 (2013), The Exorcism of Molly Hartley (2015) and Teardrop (2022).