Director: Johannes Roberts
Writer: Noel Clarke, Johannes Roberts, Davie Fairbanks, Marc Small
Producer: Manu Kumaran, Noel Clarke
Stars: Noel Clarke, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Laura Haddock, Geoff Bell, Ned Dennehy, Jamie Thomas King, Colin O’Donoghue
A group of people find themselves trapped inside a London storage facility with a dangerous alien creature.
On the Amazon order page for the US DVD of “Storage 24” is one lone critic quote prominently featured at the top of the box art. From “Daily Express,” it reads: “Highly competent … sci-fi shocker that creates some big frights.” Think about that for a moment. Is “competent” really a compliment worthy of bold red text permanently etched on the box cover? It is the film criticism equivalent of a pat on the back or a consolation prize. It usually translates to, “I was bored stiff, but at least it was in focus and lit properly.” I mention this because in looking at my own notes for the film, I find that same word begging to be utilized in every other paragraph.
Charlie (played by Noel Clarke, well known to sci-fi fans as companion Mickey Smith from “Doctor Who”) has just been unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend Shelley. With his best friend Mark, Charlie is on the way to Storage 24 to collect his things. When he arrives, he finds that Shelley and her two friends are also there collecting belongings. As if that confrontation were not awkward enough, a plane crash wreaks havoc on the facility’s power and traps everyone inside. But that same plane crash has also dropped an alien into the storage unit, and it is even less friendly than Charlie’s ex.
For lack of a better descriptor, the acting is, well, “competent.” Everyone fits their roles well enough, although the characters suffer from an endearment deficiency. Charlie is the lead hero, yet he has a way of whining about his breakup that makes him insufferable. Normally I will always be on the side of the likeable loser whose girlfriend takes him for granted, but Charlie was missing the “likeable” adjective. His pouty melancholy rang sadly desperate. And who knows what he saw in Shelley anyway. The two of them seemed to be in competition for the droopiest constant frown. Although they say misery loves company, so that might explain why the other three people included with these two could even be called “friends,” what with the unending insults lobbed in every direction. It is unclear which of these dour folks the audience is meant to identify with, though I assume Charlie is the most tolerable of the lot.
The alien they are pitted against can best be described as… there it is again, “competent.” I can even show you the creature without actually showing it to you. Plunk the monster from the box cover of “Seedpeople” onto the body of Pumpkinhead and there you have it. It looks okay, but for a film so dependent upon having a frightening centerpiece, it is underwhelming and missing a memorable profile. If it would not make an iconic action figure, then the design should go back to the drawing board.
The story is mostly serviceable. Characters are killed one at a time. A crazy old man arrives from nowhere to fill in the exposition holes. People find reasons to split up and search other areas of the storage facility that is apparently the size of an air force base. It lacks originality, but the movie does not really require the plot to be anything more than what it is. Hence, you could label it as, “competent.”
“Storage 24” does have a few inspired moments. Some jokes work without making the comedic touches overly forced. At least most of the time. An animatronic toy dog strapped with smoldering fireworks as a weapon against the alien may be a bit much, but I still laughed at the image. Occasional lines provide a wry smile, while some of the others are useless. The characters scream “open the door” four times collectively while the crazy old man fumbles for his keys in a moment that might be suspenseful had it not been done better in countless other films.
The final shot of the movie is deliciously ironic. It implies a conclusion that renders the characters’ individual struggle against this one creature entirely pointless. It is actually an interesting way to wrap up the story, but it also makes segueing into my own conclusion almost too easy…
Like the lesson the survivors are about to learn at the end of their story, watching this movie comes with a question of whether or not it was ultimately worth bothering with in the first place. I enjoy monster movies, although perhaps I am not the target demographic here and that is why I am unsure who the audience for this film is supposed to be. The lighting, the music, the staging… everything has the appearance of a “competent” film with good intentions and decent production value. Yet with so many other, and better, alien/monster-on-the-loose movies out there, what is it that “Storage 24” wishes to accomplish? If it is merely meant to be a mildly entertaining diversion while changing late night TV channels, then well done. But if people are expected to go out of their way to rent or buy a movie whose best promotional quote is that it is “competent,” then that is a problem.
Review Score: 50