"You think I'm crazy? Well, listen up: there's a storm coming like nothing you've ever seen, and not a one of you is prepared for it."
2011 film written and directed by Jeff Nichols
and starring Michael Shannon
and Jessica Chastain
A construction worker in Elyria, Ohio named Curtis LaForche begins having apocalyptic dreams about a terrible storm. At first dismissing them as being from stress, the dreams become more and more intense. Worried about the welfare of his family, Curtis begins a paranoid project of expanding the storm shelter in his backyard.
However, Curtis's mother is schizophrenic. Realizing that he might be manifesting symptoms of her disease, he starts seeing doctors about possible entering treatment. Torn between an unshakeable conviction that something terrible is about to happen, and the fear that he might be going crazy, Curtis's life begins to fall apart.
This film contains examples of:
- A Storm Is Coming: The Movie.
- Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with similar scenes.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Curtis wets himself during a particularly intense dream. You can't blame him.
- Cassandra Truth: Doubles as an Oh Crap moment.
- Catapult Nightmare: Curtis has one of these.
- Chekhov's Gun: The "storm" sign gives viewers a hint as to what's upcoming in the final scene.
- Crazy Survivalist: Curtis begins to show shades of this when he secures a risky loan just to buy an expensive shipping container, all in order to expand the shelter in his backyard.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Curtis isn't sure if his dreams are an example of this trope, or just him going mad. It doesn't help that his dreams are seemingly apocalyptic, featuring oily rain and people driven mad.
- Dysfunctional Family: Curtis's family, to some degree. His mother is in a mental hospital and his brother is estranged from him.
- Enforced Method Acting: The extras in lunch scene at the Lion's Club were only told they would get a free lunch and be in a movie, so their stunned and horrified reaction to Curtis's fight with Dewart and subsequent freak out was dead real.
- The Faceless: The faces of the people in Curtis's dreams are always blurry or obscured.
- Foot Focus: A rare non-fetish example, stemming from a particularly disturbing dream.
- Gainax Ending: Up to the viewer.
- I Am Not My Mother: Curtis knows that he might actually be schizophrenic, but he wants to avoid having a total breakdown like his mother did; when he was young, she left him abandoned in a parking lot when she had her break. To avoid possibly hurting his family, Curtis secretly begins seeking pyschological help.
- Left Hanging: A common complaint about the movie is that you really don't get closure on the larger elements of the plot. Can Curtis overcome his issues? Was he actually right? These questions are unresolved and left up to the interpretation of the viewer.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is Curtis having prophetic dreams about a future calamity? Or is he just going insane, falling victim to schizophrenia just like his mother? By the end of the movie its revealed that Curtis's dreams may have come true, but if so, they tragically were wrong about the actual location.
- that 'revelation' still falls under Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. That scene might have been just another Curtis's dream - mirroring the very first scene of the movie. The implication would be that this time his family supported him in his dream.
- Mind Virus: Some of Curtis's dreams show shades of this, with the survivors of the storm becoming inexplicably hostile towards him and his family. He even has a dream of his wife becoming "infected" by the storm, with the dream implying that she would try to stab him.
- Promotion to Parent: Curtis's older brother is implied to have had this after their mother had her breakdown, since he was much older than Curtis.
- Properly Paranoid: Curtis sees himself as this when he begins digging up his backyard to expand their storm shelter. Everyone else thinks he's gone nuts.
- Reluctant Psycho: Curtis has shades of this, since he realizes that he might actually be insane. He begins seeing a therapist in secret and spends just as much time worrying about protecting his family from him as he does protecting them from the storm.
- The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: Curtis's mother is explicity stated to have Paranoid Schizophrenia. Curtis is worried that maybe he has it too, though even he realizes that he only fits a few of the symptoms (not enough for a full diagnosis).
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The viewer is kept in the dark throughout the movie as to whether Curtis is really insane or not. It turns out he was right. Tragically, this was after he had accepted that he was crazy and was seeking help for it. The doctor recommended that he get away from his home for a while, so the family finally take the vacation to Myrtle Beach that they've been saving for. Playing on the beach with his daughter, Curtis notices storms in the sky and realizes that his apocalyptic dream is coming true as multiple waterspouts drop from the clouds and an oily rain begins falling.
- Or, he was wrong and the last scene can be interpreted as either another dream, or a more surreal depiction that his family is now on the same page as him regarding his perception of the world. There are other interpretations to, and it's ultimately left up to the viewer to decide what the final scene, and the whole movie, meant.
- You Have to Believe Me: At first Curtis tries to hide his fears because he knows everyone will assume he's crazy. Eventually, though, he has a full-blown outburst at a work event, resulting in the page quote above.