Shadows in the Storm (1988)

Shadows in the Storm (1988)

A daydreaming businessman named Thelonius Pitt takes a vacation in the Redwood Forests of California. The morning after he arrives, he meets a beautiful, mysterious woman named Melanie. She happens to look just like the woman he keeps seeing in his dreams. Thelonius and Melanie meet each other on the shore of a nearby river late at night. Melanie’s husband finds them, and attacks Thelonius. Melanie pulls out a pistol and fires 3 shots, knocking her husband’s body into the icy river below. The nightmare has begun…

Shadows in the Storm is a 1988 drama/thriller film by Terrell Tannen.

Film Review for Shadows in the Storm

I watched this for free last night on Amazon Instant Video, and I still think the price was too high. To borrow, with apologies, from the previous reviewer of a decade ago, even if you like Mia Sara, you will not enjoy this film.

Mia Sara became my favorite actress a long time ago, and held that position even as she became, to use her own phrase, “mostly retired,” her work became more sporadic, and someone else ascended rapidly to become what I could call “my favorite actress who isn’t mostly retired.” As consolation, if any were needed, Mia has also become a favorite poet: google the phrase “Mia Sara Writes” or take a tumbl with “where to find Mia Sara” and I think you’ll be favorably impressed.

Sadly, there was not much favorable or impressive about “Shadows in the Storm.” Reviewers on IMDB describe this as writer-director Terrell Tannen’s attempt at a neo-noir, and that seems accurate to me. He didn’t succeed, though. The plot matches the broadest description of a noir plot, that being the story of a man who makes a bad decision and then is helpless to prevent the consequences of that decision from destroying him.

And the setting in the California woods did remind me of parts of Out Of The Past [HD]. The near-constant darkness and rain worked too. But unlike the typically convoluted, even indecipherable, noir plot, I figured out what was up here very, very quickly. I expected to be squicked by the idea of a romantic pairing between 21-year-old Mia Sara and 51-year-old Ned Beatty (see also 28-year-old Mia’s character being sent to seduce 62-year-old Michael Caine in Bullet to Beijing), but it did make sense in the context of the plot, while their one un-graphic and un-sexy sex scene only lasted about 20 seconds, which seemed true-to-life for a man in Ned’s condition. And there’s at least one plot hole in the resolution that even someone with eyesight as bad as Thelonious Pitt’s (yes, that’s Ned’s character’s name) should have been able to see through.

Still, Mia is luminous — not only herownself, but because for most of the movie she’s in white sweaters or dresses that seem to glow in the murky woods or interiors. When she suddenly appears in a black leather jacket in bright daylight, you know something has changed. This was a tough movie to watch for several reasons — and also to listen to, O bad ’80s soundtrack entirely disconnected from the mood of the film. At one point late in the story, Mia’s character is sitting in a motel room watching the noir classic D.O.A. — specifically, the scene where Edmond O’Brien is told “You’re already dead.” Sad that that should have been the most dramatic moment in this film.

Shadows in the Storm Movie Poster (1988)

Shadows in the Storm (1988)

Directed by: Terrell Tannen
Starring: Ned Beatty, Mia Sara, Michael Madsen, Donna Mitchell, James Widdoes, Joe Dorsey, William Bumiller, Tracy Brooks Swope, Ramon Angeloni, Marta Goldstein
Screenplay by: Terrell Tannen
Cinematography by: John J. Connor
Film Editing by: Marcy Levitas Hamilton
Set Decoration by: Katherine Orrison
Music by: Sasha Matson
Distributed by: Image Entertainment
Release Date: March 21, 1988