“I know you!,” more than one person says during Psycho Storm Chaser, “You’re on TV! You’re Dr. Carl!”
And indeed, Carl Highstrom (played by Rob Hillis) is a bit of a local celebrity. He’s the guy who goes out in the middle of a hurricane and films himself talking about how everyone should be either evacuating the area or taking shelter. He’s the man who you trust during tornado and hurricane season! He’s out there, performing a public service! Thank you, Dr. Carl!
Of course, you’ll notice that the title of this Lifetime film is Psycho Storm Chaser. And, when we first meet Carl, he’s in the process of murdering a young woman who tried to hide in her basement during a hurricane. It turns out that Carl takes the weather very seriously. He’s also a big believer in following the directions of the National Weather Service. If the alert says that you need to take shelter, you better take shelter! If the alert tells you to leave the area, that doesn’t mean that you think about doing it. That means you do it! And, if you don’t, Carl will come by your house and kill you.
Unfortunately, Abby Fields (Tara Erickson) can’t leave the area, despite the fact that a hurricane is rapidly approaching. She’s a home care nurse and she’s been hired to take care of a house-bound coma patient. There’s no way to get the patient to a hospital. So, Abby has to stay in the house with another nurse and the patient’s sister and she has to hope that, even with a hurricane raging outside, the power doesn’t go out. Still, Abby is determined to her duty and it’s going to take more than a storm to defeat her!
Unfortunately, Carl really doesn’t care about the fact that Abby’s just doing her job. That’s because Carl is a psycho storm chaser!
What can I say about Psycho Storm Chaser? It’s such a simple idea for a film and yet I absolutely loved it! In my case, a lot of that is because I’m from Texas so I’ve known my share of self-styled storm chasers and most of them have been a bit off. Maybe not psycho but …. well, off. When Carl started ranting about how important it was to do what the Weather Service said, I was reminded of every local meteorologist who has ever interrupted regular programming to order me to get into a “tornado-safe room.” (I’m not sure which room that would be, to be honest. My favorite room is the second-story bedroom but that’s probably not a good place to be during a tornado.) When Carl first spotted Abby and had a dramatic moment due to her reminding him of someone from his past, I recalled the frantic storm chaser who went on television a few years ago and announced that a tornado had just ripped through an elementary school. “THE TORNADO HAS HIT THE SCHOOL!” he shouted, even though anyone watching the footage could see that the tornado was clearly nowhere near the school. After having caused a mass panic, that storm chaser was not asked to appear on television anymore.
Rob Hillis played Dr. Carl and he was a lot of fun in the role. He was just so grim and judgmental and goddamn serious about it all that it was hard not to get a kick out of the scenes of him lecturing anyone who didn’t evacuate the area. Carl was an entertainingly over-the-top villain and Hillis played him with just the right mix of humor and menace. He hated the weather but he loved his job.
Psycho Storm Chaser is an entertainingly silly film. It’s obviously not meant to be taken seriously. Instead, it’s just something to keep you amused until after the rain passes.