Eye For Film >> Movies >> Storage 24 (2012) Film Review
Reviewed by: David Graham
One-man movie-making industry Noel Clarke turns his hand to sci-fi horror in an enjoyably unpretentious creature feature from talented F director Johannes Roberts. Clarke's initial script is laced with a commendable sense of humor, elevating the old-school Red Dwarf hokum a bit beyond being merely a guilty pleasure. With a slim cast and minimal sets - the storage facility location almost feels like Von Trier's Dogville exercise - Roberts makes the most of his alien menace through the first-half's relatively subtle build-up to its reveal, and the subsequent action's vicious lashings (literally) of squelchy gore. Like the bastard lovechild of Cronenberg's The Fly and Stan Winston's Predator - even featuring pins plagiarized from the legendary SFX guru's Pumpkinhead demon - the 8-foot tall rubber beastie here won't win any awards for originality but it gets the job done in efficient, memorable fashion, not unlike the film itself.
Recovering from a recent split, jilted ex Charlie ends up having a fiery showdown with the unrepentant Shelley in a storage lock-up where their furniture is being held. Flanked by best friend Mark, his attempts to find out what went wrong are complicated by the presence of the dismissive Chris and his beau Nikki. Events take a turn for the worse when a plane crash causes a power failure, and the group realise they're stuck in the facility together with some hapless employees and a ravenous intruder. As they struggle to come to terms with the situation, buried tensions rise to the surface, skeletons tumble out of closets and the group must use all the resources at their disposal if they hope to survive their extraterrestrial encounter.
At the film's core as writer, producer and star, Clarke deserves credit for not creating an obviously heroic role for himself, putting in a self-deprecating performance that parodies petty modern male resentments nicely. He's ably supported by Colin O'Donoghue - who could perhaps usurp Michael Fassbender from his Brit-stud throne - and the sympathetic Laura Haddock, although Antonia Campbell-Hughes is a somewhat weak presence in the more complex ex-girlfriend role. It's also nice to see Roberts' F actress Ruth Gemmell put in a frosty cameo (she could even be playing the same character as previously), while Alex Price makes an amusingly gormless front-of-house boy and Ned Dennehy overacts maniacally as an eccentric squatter.
There's no avoiding the storyline's silly nature, but by the end you'll realise the film-makers wouldn't want you to; their literally explosive climax is a glorious throwback to the absurdity of their Eighties inspirations. As in Attack The Block, the script is barbed and well-observed without getting in the way of the action, and if Storage 24 never quite reaches the dizzy heights of Joe Cornish's hugely impressive debut it does at least continue in a similar spirit. The location is disappointingly drab and the chase-and-munch set-pieces do get a little repetitive, but Roberts knows how to stage suspenseful horror sequences and drop in crowd-pleasing doses of blood and guts. Anyone who loves Alien will have fun spotting all the references to Ridley Scott's 1979 classic, while anyone left bemused by Prometheus' loose ends may be pleasantly surprised by how resolutely the script refuses to explain anything here - there's not really any need anyway.
After the success of Kidulthood et al, it's refreshing to see Clarke taking chances and avoiding the easy urban grit route, working on an intimate scale with unfashionable economy and a tight crew who clearly had fun on set. Storage 24 could have been scarier but it still gets the juices flowing and like the 70-minute F it doesn't outstay its welcome. Roberts is showing serious genre mettle so it'll be interesting to see what the capable young director will do next; while some will see him as something of a hack who's tied to this sort of material, his understanding of his audience and their beloved schtick will surely see him attracting further admirers in the fantasy field.Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2012
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