Johannes Roberts’s Storage 24 reveiwed.
From his emergence as the luckless Micky in Doctor Who, Noel Clarke has carved out a name for himself as a writer and director with an ever-expansive repertoire. Starting out with the likes of Adult and Kidulthood, leading up to Clarke’s more pronounced recent diversification with Fast Girls and alien invasion feature, Storage 24. Directed by Johannes Roberts (F (2010)), with other writing credits for Davie Fairbanks and Marc Small, Storage 24 is the first post-Attack the Block British sci-fi/horror.
Deep in London, there’s an underground storage facility aptly named Storage 24, on the forecourt the remnants of a plane crashes on one of the patrons’ cars, make a mess out of it and the surrounding electrical systems. While out back, something unexplainable has emerged causing much of London to go under lockdown and quarantine. Nevertheless, Noel Clarke and his best friend Mark (O Donoghue) are heading to this same storage facility to sort out the remainder of his belongings from his recent messy breakup, lo and behold his ex-girlfriend and her friends just happen to be there too. After which the alien systematically starts picking off members of this group and staff unlucky enough to be working this of all shifts.
Roberts’ film is a contained genre picture with a small group of people trying to survive the murky hand of death. Perhaps not a creäture feature per se, but any good genre picture uses its blood thirsty antagonist as an object on which to project allegory, social consciousness or satire. What is offered here is sub-Eastenders soap opera babble which has Noel Clarke playing the lovelorn man done wrong, persistently haranguing Antonia Campbell-Hughes (Shelley) about why she left him. Later developments only exacerbate this sub-soap opera storytelling to horrid degrees. There is a sequence where the big dramatic reveal has just been uncovered and in the background there is a loud guttural roar that could only come from something unexplainable, do they panic? No, they continue their in-arguing; such developments present huge question marks over character motivation.
As a result, the early exchanges of this 87 minute film become slow, dreary, far from the punchy violence and snappy dialogue synonymous with the monster movie. More talented writers and film makers have played with the slow build up manufacture affection for the characters before their ultimate demise with consistently better results.
Storage 24 does become perkier in the last 40 minutes, but no less conflicted about its ambitions. There are lines of dialogue and images that would fit into any comedy horror if it wasn’t so dreadfully po-faced. One of the latter scenes has one of the more bizarre methods which one might try to kill a hulking murderous alien; it can only be greeted with laughter. The same can be said for the line, “I’ve got nothing left to lose, so I’m going to go and fight that thing”. The default reaction for many of Storage 24’s many back and forths is laughter and not always for the most flattering reasons.
As that ludicrous scenario implies, there are some good sequences buoyed with strong practical effects, gore and cliché. No matter what one says about Storage 24, something creeps in ruining an otherwise promising premise. Take the gore and set-up as the two big signs. The gore might be strong and bloody, but it also reeks of familiarity. There’s a scene, where someone has been tore in two with his intestines and organs splayed across the floor, while well done, it is one of the most common things to see in a film of this nature. Other than that this, the hulking great beast doesn’t really do much more to people than throw them across the room and punch/bite off their bottom jaw. Again, this feat is technically impressive but it quickly numbs through repetition.
The same is true of the set-up; a group of young Londoners are trapped in an underground complex with an alien. It has vast amounts of potential that is only alluded to and not fully investigated. Each of the storage containers reflects the life of a different person, that which the group could come across (people, things, weapons, anything) has scope and potential that is only limited by the human imagination. Instead, we get the token mentalist played with atypical gusto by Ned Dennehy and a few fireworks, that’s it.
With the potential this concept has, it’s impossible not to be swept up by what this film could’ve been. Storage 24 is not dramatic enough to be a drama, not scary enough to be a horror, and not science driven enough to be sci-fi. As far as inner-city horror/sci-fi crossover’s go, it’s probably best to stick with Joe Cornish’s fantastic 2011 début, Attack the Block.