‘Infinite Storm’: The Incredible True Story Behind Naomi Watt’s Survival Thriller

Mountain climbing is a dangerous activity. Even seasoned experts, like the late mountaineer Marc-André Leclerc, risk extreme peril. Nevertheless, mountaineering draws enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, ready to test their endurance thousands of feet above the ground.

Recently, the survival thriller Infinite Storm premiered in theaters. The movie depicts the real story of two individuals who met on a New Hampshire mountain under less-than-ideal circumstances. Actor Naomi Watts stars in the film, which tells the story of Pam Bales on that fateful day. 

‘Infinite Storm’ is about two people trying to survive a blizzard

Produced by Bleecker Street, Infinite Storm is a drama adventure film starring Watts as Bales. Other cast members include Parker Sawyers, Billy Howle, and Denis O’Hare. Directed by Malgorzata Szumowska, the film came out on March 25, 2022. 

Infinite Storm focuses on Bales, an experienced climber and search and rescue volunteer. One day, she hikes up New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. A blizzard arrives, and Bales follows some tracks on the 6,288-foot-high mountain, only to find a freezing man. 

Bales refers to the stranger as John, and he is walking through the heavy snow alone. As a result, she decides to get them both down safely. They need to get off the mountain before nightfall, or they could succumb to the low temperature. 

Bales and John come close to death, facing multiple obstacles along the way. During the film, viewers see Bales having flashbacks of her late daughters.

Naomi Watts’ survival thriller is based on the true story of Pam Bales

Naomi Watts and Pam Bales attend the 'Infinite Storm' screening
Infinite Storm star Naomi Watts and real-life subject Pam Bales | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Like many other survival movies, Infinite Storm took inspiration from real-life events. According to Stylist, Bales is an actual person who worked as a nurse and mountain guide. The day started calm and sunny, but the weather quickly took a turn for the worse. 

When Bales came across the man, he was not wearing an outfit fit for a hike in the snow. Additionally, he was close to death due to hypothermia. She immediately tried to warm him up and gave him a name since he did not give her one. 

When Bales and John got to safety, John went into his car and drove away. A week later, the man sent her a letter to thank her. He had meant to end his life, but her kindness led to him getting help. 

Watts paid tribute to Bales in an Instagram post, finding the role a privilege to play. Bales’ story reminded her of humanity’s ability to be selfless. While filming, Watts felt “the immensity and power that is nature.” 

Reviews for ‘Infinite Storm’

Infinite Storm received mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Some people liked Watt’s performance, while others did not enjoy the movie. A Roger Ebert reviewer mentioned that the action-filled scenes were exceptionally decent. 

Several of the scenes made the most out of the on-location scenery. Viewers also can see the endurance of the actors rather than stunt doubles. Watts did all of her own work while filming. However, one complaint has to do with the flashback moments. 

“So we get biographical flashbacks that explain her and that (seemingly) try to ‘raise the stakes’ or ‘widen out the story’ and otherwise add sort of a metaphorical dimension to the challenge facing her on the mountain,” reviewer Matt Zoller Seitz wrote. 

Critics might compare the movie to Wild since it features the story of a woman surviving the elements. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Wild also shows flashbacks of a tragic past. Unlike Bales, Witherspoon’s character, Cheryl Strayed, hikes thousands of miles across the Pacific Crest Trail.

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