DVD Asleep in a Storm

DVD Asleep in a Storm
DVD Asleep in a Storm
Rating: 6.3
Genres: Drama
Director: Nathan Mancini
Writers: Nathan Mancini, Connor Walsh
Stars: Emily Bartlow, Troy Beaudry, Ashley Brothers
This coming-of-age dramedy stars John Sikma as Rob Connolly, a successful college senior who lives his life like a game of poker, where everyone is hiding something. An insult to Rob’s pride sets him on a battle for intellectual superiority against Sam Elmore (Sam Leuenberger), a seemingly insignificant fellow student. The conflict draws in the seniors’ friends and shakes the foundation of their college lives. Ultimately, Rob and Sam must decide for themselves if anyone is trustworthy. Written by Nathan Mancini
Country: USA
Release Date: 13 April 2013 (USA)
Box Office
Budget: $12,000 (estimated)


  1. Attending Grove City College senior Nathan Mancini's anticipated premiere of Asleep in a Storm, I found myself immersed in excitement. Students were buzzing and Mancini was telling the hive how ecstatic he was about the quality of the film – twelve thousand dollars-worth of quality.

    Unfortunately, this "award-winning director" isn't going to be winning any notable awards with this movie. Mancini was given twelve thousand dollars and returned a film that is genuinely un-enjoyable. Viewers can expect sub-par quality. The juvenile plot, poor scripting and technical features push it far below most student independent films. Myself having almost a decade of film experience, Asleep in a Storm nowhere near satisfied me.

    Regardless of my credentials, I seemed to have been made the fool. By not finding myself privy to the film's greatness I saw myself as the outcast. The crowd roared. People applauded. I sat there and questioned them, "Why?" But the answer to this was no mystery. Mancini did well. He provided the GCC audience with something they were familiar with and could associate with. Having seen one frame, the students knew the exact location and were completely comfortable there. And who doesn't think it cool to see their friends and peers on screen?

    Let us step away – away from the so familiar campus, familiar dorms, familiar faces – and look at this production from a more objective standpoint.

    Cinematography. It's important. When watching Asleep in a Storm, you can tell Mancini and Moffett (the credited cinematographer) did not attend Filmmaking 101. The shot placement is extremely awkward. Mancini has this strange affinity for placing his characters up against walls. This establishes no depth of field and is very visually boring. Did I mention camera angles? From confusing establishing shots to awkward close-ups, it was most definitely amateur. You have an expensive and versatile camera, Mancini. Use it. I can get better footage out of a DSLR.

    Mancini also loves his montages. (Like I said, he didn't attend 101.) Rob goes about one of his monologues as shots are shown of him awkwardly moving about his dorm. In the chase scene, all of the aerial shots are shown one after the other. When Sam Elmore was discussing his lack of interpersonal skills to a fellow classmate, an over-extended flashback was shown of Sam's past failures. I kept looking at my watch wondering if it was going to make up the entirety of the film. Little did I know at that time that this was only the first extended flashback to come.

    Audio. Don't even get me started. I'm a third-generation professional sound technician. I can confidently state that nobody put the appropriate effort into or had enough experience to record, level, or mix the audio. When Sam screamed after brushing his teeth with hot sauce, my ears started to bleed from the clipping audio waves. Hey, the credit music sounded good.

    The plot also had a lot to be desired. Firstly, the whole movie revolves around how many times Caesar is stabbed. This – to me – does not justify Rob Connolly going on a maniacal frenzy and exacting his revenge on poor Sam who just asked a simple question. Then Rob and Sam engage in an extremely juvenile prank war that escalates to both parties hating each other. I found very little of the slapstick humor amusing, but I did laugh at parts. Now here's the twist: Sam is found innocent. It was actually Victor – a side character – who was pranking Rob. Yes, poor Sam is dragged into this chaos and confusion. What is Victor's motive? He (paraphrasing) "doesn't want to let Rob win." …Win what? Win senior of the year? Win by bringing Sam down? What does Victor have against Rob? Who is Victor, anyway? God doesn't know. Anyway, Rob is put to shame. Now he and Sam are "insta-friends." Sam sets up this climactic inspirational speech for Rob to present. Rob's ex – who he hasn't seen in two years – shows up as a random dramatic reconciliation. Why? Because it's dramatic. She isn't even a side character throughout the movie.

    Despite the directing, the casting was fantastic. All of the actors assumed their roles very well and portrayed them fabulously. Bravo. However, there was one character that should not have even existed. Mancini, get out of the shot. I don't care if you're making a movie in a movie. Your whole "movie-ception" was not funny and very unprofessional – an embarrassing cameo.

    Mancini gave Grove City College students a movie about Grove City College students. He has undoubtedly proved that you can make a "good" movie with enough marketing and hype. However, from a filmmaking perspective, this movie is worth nowhere near twelve thousand dollars and remains in the category of less-than-amateur quality films. (2/10)

  2. Director Mancini's first feature length film is one that tells a tale of Pride, Humiliation, Jealousy, Deception, Revenge, and Forgiveness.

    College is full of actors. With "adults" seeking their identity while being bombarded with rigorous academics, most students develop two faces: one for the stage, painted up to attend Carnival, and one for the mirror, reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

    The pride puffed Rob Connolly is by far the best at wearing a mask. He is also plagued by his hidden self-portrait. We are allowed to peer into his insecurities and we find that he sees things through very tinted glasses. He believes that his ex-girlfriend sold him out before his "big" moment. He also is egotistical enough to think a fellow classmate seeks to harm him. All of his flaws are caused by his anxiety-ridden duality of being Rob with the mask or Rob with the monster.

    The low and luckless Sam Elmore plays the fool. His other self is dormant and in serious need of hope. He becomes the butt end of ridicule because of his awkwardness and long winded nature. Innocent and humiliated to the point of humility, Sam's constant questioning places him in the middle of a prank war between Pride and Jealousy.

    Jealousy incarnate, Victor Hunt, is lawless and ruthless in his schemes to undermine Rob. Using whomever and whatever he will, Victor can rightly be described as "the RA from Hell". Subtle manipulation, mocking humiliation, and Fierce interrogation are his tools for bringing those around him to endless, sleepless nights.

    Along with a slew of other side characters who search for their own masks, this film provides probing questions about our own identities. Learning to trust and to forgive those who fling arrows of outrageous fortune towards you has the effect to disarm the most devious devices and render the most potent poisons purposeless.

    All around, Asleep in a Storm provides an enjoyable plot, brilliant character crisis, and a message of hope for those who seek their identities not in harm but in love.

  3. Asleep in a Storm has a simple yet inviting premise. Rob Connolly is a soon-to-be graduating college senior with a jaded view on the college experience. He believes he has everyone and everything figured out and with little effort, presumes to know the intentions and abilities of anyone who crosses his path, which he likens to living life like a game of poker. His path eventually leads to a classroom confrontation with Sam Elmore, also a senior whose ridiculous attention to all things irrelevant irritates Rob to the point of seeking revenge. While the setup of the plot before this point is decently inviting and well-conceived, the moment conflict enters, the writing turns to a mess and this is the first example. Rob is so enraptured with the thoughts of revenge pranking on Sam that he enlists his friend, Jack Orchard, to go on a pranking rampage. Allow me to set the scene for those of you reading this. Rob is giving a presentation in class about the assassination of Caesar. After completing, he takes questions from his classmates. Sam politely asks what kind of daggers were used in his assassination to which Rob answers a Pugio, a type of military dagger used by the Roman army at the time. Sam then asks another question: how many times was Caesar stabbed? Rob replies that Caesar was stabbed 33 times to which Rob's professor jumps in to correct Rob by saying that it was Shakespeare who said it was 33 stabs while historians agree that it was actually 23. The professor then admonishes Rob for his lack of knowledge and comments that this is a detail that Rob would usually have gotten correct. Here is where all believability flees from this film. If Rob is a very thorough and academically hardworking college student, which is established earlier in the film by this same professor revealing that she has nominated him for the Senior of the Year award, then Rob would not have made a simple mistake as to believe a Shakespearean account of a historical event when even the most basic high school literature class would remind its students to not believe Shakespeare's history as it was heavily fictionalized. Certainly an intelligent and meticulous college senior would not make such a basic mistake and because of this mistake, which is deemed by the plot as Rob's fault and pointed out by his professor, Rob, for some reason, decides that Sam is to blame and will dedicate all of his resources to making college life a living hell for Sam. After this incident, Rob, with the help of Jack, sets a first prank for Sam who then is encouraged by his friend, Victor Hunt, to retaliate in kind. Their respective pranking continues to escalate until Rob resorts to making an illegal copy of Sam's room key in order to purloin Sam's backpack, containing his laptop. However, it is established previously in the film that Sam does not lock his door and that when he attempts to, he never realizes that locking it from the inside doesn't allow the lock to stay locked after the door is shut. Rob must have been perfectly aware of this as one of the earlier pranks involved setting multiple alarm clocks in Sam's room. So why did Rob need to illegally copy Sam's room key? Because the plot demanded that he do just that for later, Rob is caught by the college dean who has knowledge of Rob's illegal actions. Examples of characters serving the plot happen throughout this movie and it clearly displays the poor writing as it makes the characters seem completely flat and unbelievable. Examples would be: how it is established that Sam always seems to leave his cell phone in his room except for when the plot requires that he have his phone on him or how it is shown that all of Rob's poker-playing buddies leave the circle of friends for no apparent reason. Rob's friend, Sarah, leaves Rob's friendship after he has an emotional breakdown in the cafeteria and refuses to tell her why. Friends don't just leave friendships because of one minor incident that didn't have any direct impact. Rob's friend Jack also leaves after finding out that Rob had planned to ruin Sam's date night, even though it is not established that Jack has a conscience until this point. Up until now Jack's character had consisted of being a simple prankster whose only purpose is to serve Rob. However, even as many sins as this movie has up to this point, the final straw in the bad writing of this film must be the entirety of the character of Victor Hunt. Victor is an absolute mess of a character who does the most nonsensical things just so that the plot moves forward. At first, he appears as one of Rob's poker buddies then he completely changes course as he encourages Sam to escalate the respective pranking, acting as Sam's creative source for pranking ideas. Eventually, Victor turns into a major antagonist and reveals how he was behind the dean's knowledge of Rob's illegal activities. Also, a very badly composed plot line involves Victor sending a letter to Rob's ex-girlfriend in an attempt to make her think that he has become a worse person but due to Victor's ineptitude at letter writing, it has the opposite effect and Rob's ex-girlfriend returns to him with love anew. None of Victor's actions make any sense and his motivation for why he performs his actions is non-existent. Without a doubt, Victor Hunt is the worst written character in this movie and his role as antagonist only serves to antagonize the audience with intense confusion. Overall, the plot and characterization of this movie is atrocious and it is mind-boggling how this was possibly conceived as a possible good idea. If you want to know what I mean, view this film with the knowledge that nothing will make sense.

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