Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Kevin Sorbo, David Schofield, Annabel Wright, Todd Jensen, Jarrett “The Defuser” Cripen
Directed by Gary Jones
The main character is the mild-mannered sheriff of a tranquil little town. People start dying mysteriously, victims of a predatory force of nature. Enter a researcher who specializes in this particular field of science and a crusty old hunter of said predator with a past history dealing with such. The mayor wants everything hushed up and doesn’t want to hear any talk of having to cancel the town’s biggest day of tourism. I’m just shocked they didn’t go so far as to have someone utter the line “We’re going to need a bigger lightning rod.”
Given the number of electrocutions, I am also amazed that at no point did anyone make a “Don’t tase me, bro!” joke.
Kevin Sorbo brings his special brand of laid-back performing to the role of a single dad sheriff who should have just been named Guy Everyman. The small town of Roscoe is days away from its annual Pumpkin Festival, which is doubly important for the foppish mayor because auto execs are also coming in to scope out the town with the possibility of it becoming the site of a new manufacturing plant.
All is well until abnormal lightning strikes leave behind a string of “mutilation by high voltage impact” bodies. A storm chaser and his two irritating pupils investigate. Then a mysterious stranger comes to town to conduct his own lightning experiments, and this guy appears to be shock-proof. Electrical burn scarred bodies continue to mount and ominous warnings of more to come follow.
A creature exists in the pure electrical energy. The lightning it generates might just electrocute you to death, or you might end up inside a white void within the lightning with the vicious extraterrestrial-looking creature itself. We get a lot of talk about what this monster may be or how it might have come about, but it’s never fully developed as a monstrous entity. The idea is so unique; yet, the monster could almost be written out and the plot turned into a more tried and true natural disaster flick.
I’ve been mostly curious about Lightning Strikes because it was written by David A. Prior, who along with his brother Ted was a staple of the independently-produced, direct-to-video action genre of the early 1990’s. I noticed in the opening credits that the writing credit is co-attributed to long-time Syfy movie producer Philip Roth, a guy I’ve been told in the past has a bad habit of turning creative concepts into cliché-a-thons. Makes me wonder if he rubber stamped the script to ensure the more intriguing ideas playing into the notion of a supernatural monster lurking inside the lightning remained secondary to all the standard Sci-Fi Channel original movie machinations.
As is often the case, there is entirely too much talky down time between the brief attack scenes until the all-out lightning storm finale, which no doubt sucked up most of the budget. FX guy Gary Jones (Boogeyman 3, Mosquito) manages to make Lightning Strikes into a serviceable little creature cum disaster flick, albeit one without much spark to it until the third act. I dare say Lightning Strikes is a movie perfectly suited for watching on a rainy day.
Lightning Strikes will also be of note to fans of Syfy’s “Who Wants to be a Superhero?” series. Season 2 winner “The Defuser” appears in a small supporting role as part of his grand prize victory. Unlike the Season 1 winner Feedback, who only got a 90-second cameo in Mega Snake during which time he came across as a total spaz, “The Defuser” got an actual role (sort of) playing a goofy deputy who either is “The Defuser” or just a really big fan of his; trust me when I tell you the one scene acknowledging his “Defuser” character is about as contrived as anything you will ever see. At least he gets to save a damsel in distress from a near fatal electrocution.
That beats some of the other police work seen in the film. A small town police deputy calling in his position investigating a lightning victim falls victim himself, and nobody goes looking for him until nearly a day later.
2 1/2 out of 5
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