Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars
Surrounded by her numerous championship ribbons, Dani (Danielle Chuchran) takes to the ring again astride her prize horse, Admiral. Soon she will add another ribbon to her collection. If only things at home were going as well. With her father (Howell) facing a lengthy prison term for his “business dealings,” her step-mother (Sam Sorbo) leaves home, taking her step-brother with her. Dad tries to make a deal but that causes him to lose everything…including Admiral. Dani is sent to live with her “Uncle Sam” (Kevin Sorbo), a man she has met exactly once. It’s not going to be a good summer.
Beautifully photographed, “Storm Rider” is one of those small “family” films that major studios don’t (or won’t) make anymore. It is also a story about adapting and learning to care for those around you, be they two legged or four. Dani is used to having everything and now finds herself living on a farm. It is only after Sam, a veterinarian, introduces her to a baby mule who was found huddled in some trees afraid of a storm that she begins to lighten up. Naming the creature “Stormy,” she begins to treat it as if it was the horse she had to give up. As always, there is a lesson to be learned.
The cast does an admirable job, bringing some light heartedness to a film with some pretty dark moments. Kevin Sorbo brings to mind Keith Carradine with his performance. Silent yet strong. Chuchran occasionally overplays the spoiled brat card but all in all her performance is solid. Sam Sorbo is icy as the former wife who is only looking out for herself. Halfway through the film she returns just to drop her son off – which is really surprising since Uncle Sam is her ex-husband’s brother. Swanson brings light to her scenes with Kevin Sorbo as a friend/love interest with the right advice.
High praise indeed for cinematographer Brandon Christensen whose camera captures the beautiful mountains and countryside featured in the film. Though sometimes a little dramatic, composer Russ Whitelock’s score sets a nice tone for the onscreen action.
“Storm Rider” is also now available on Video on Demand (VOD)