Movie Reviews 240 – Storm of the Century (1999)

Storm of the CenturyComing right off a review of The Orphanage where a parent is faced with the agonizing mysterious disappearance of their child, horror meister Stephen King blazes a similar trail in his miniseries Storm of the Century where the parents of one town are imposed with an equally audacious plight.

The residents of Little Tall Island are used to the occasional meteorological flurry, but when indicators that a gargantuan winter storm is headed their way, even the hardy townsfolk begin to take precautions and stock up on supplies as they await the tempest. Little do they know that the weather will soon be the least of their concerns.

The coming gale also brings along a mysterious, cane wielding stranger who nonchalantly enters the house of an elderly woman, kills her and calmly awaits the arrival of the authorities to take him in. André Linoge (Colm Feore) has a message to deliver to the town and part-time lawman Michael Anderson (Timothy Daly) has to calm the town and try to figure out what Linoge is really up to. Locked in his cell Linoge exhibits his powers to compel people to do his bidding, which includes having them kill others or even themselves, each of which also prominently scribes (usually in blood) the message “Give me what I want and I will go away.” But when asked directly what exactly is it that he wants, he proclaims that he will only state his mission that night at the local church with everybody (still alive) present.

As the blizzard reaches its fiery peak that night Linoge first reveals his true form, that of a greying, moribund man and that what he wants is a young protégé that he can mold and meld to replace him as mystical sower of evil. To that end, he has decided that he wants one of the eight children living on Little Tall Island. As he does not have the powers to just take them outright and leave, he requires calmly puts it to the residents to willingly let him chose a successor that will be decided by a fair game of chance. A  tough decision as refusal will have him kill off everybody, including the children. The issue is to be determined by a simple vote among the residents.

With little time to decide whether to agree or not, the gathered folks have a tough decision to make. But from the outset Michael appears to be only one unwilling to agree to the sacrificial terms, regardless of the consequences. He is shocked when his own wife (Debrah Farentino) sides with the others despite the fact that their own son would be one of the children in the draw.

Although never stated outright, it is clear that the reason this particular town was chosen as the fount for an heir was because just about every citizen has their own dark secret. Their inner demons vary in magnitude, ranging from simple shameful conduct to law breakers, often not so much a secret at all, but just something that everyone feigns to publicly acknowledge. Everyone but Michael that is, seemingly the only unblemished soul around. The battle at hand between good and evil is a multi-faceted for Michael, pitted against Linoge, the rest of the town, and his own family. The last bastion of morality.

King stalwarts will be familiar with his typical Maine setting and other distinctive trappings, but the movie is slow going at first, giving us a sense of the characters making up the town and playing a bit of a waiting game until Linoge proffers his ultimatum. There is also an interesting tie-in to the legendary lost colony of Roanoke, a town whose residents mysteriously disappeared in 16th century North Carolina, implying that the town had a similar such encounter with evil. But the drama is gripping once the real storm sets in Michael along with the secluded residents ponder their future.

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