5 out of 10

Released: 29th June 2012

Director: Johannes Roberts: (47 Metres Down / On The Other Side of the Door / Roadkill (2015) / F)

Cast: Noel Clarke, Colin O’Donohue, Laura Haddock, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Jamie Thomas King, Alex Price, Ruth Gemmell , Davie Fairbanks, Amy Pemberton with Geoff Bell and Ned Dennehy

Written by: Noel Clarke & Davie Fairbanks

Trailer:  STORAGE 24

Back in 1992 when the British film industry was on the ropes a critically mauled sci-fi called SPLIT SECOND was released.  It was a low-budget monster sci-fi flick  that aimed low and scored. Since then British sci-fi has had aspirations and ambitions to transcend the predictable “slash and stalk” formula. STORAGE 24 has no such aims.  Like SPLIT SECOND, STORAGE  24 boasts a game cast, superior cinematography and a music score that belies a movie of gargantuan budget.

That’s why I’m happy to report that STORAGE 24 is fun. Predictable fun though. Anyone could tell you the plot, the order of death, and the outcome from viewing the trailer.  Five or six friends led by Noel Clarke (KIDULTHOOD) bicker about a disintegrated relationship at a storage facility unbeknownst that an alien creature is on the loose after escaping from a crashed military plane. Trapped inside the facility due to an automated lockdown, they have to at first overcome their Hollyoaks style differences to survive a running battle against their cosmic foe.  Character actor Geoff Bell (THE BUSINESS) is thoroughly wasted as an engineer aka monster fodder with no lines witty or otherwise to make an impression. These type of movies fall or stand on the presence of salty supporting characters in my opinion.  Ned Dennehy (BLITZ) arrives on the scene towards the middle of the film to give proceedings a twist of sorts.  But he doesn’t help elevate any of the characters above types. Mostly the story is made up of running down identical corridors until our heroes decide to man up and get tough.

Its no Attack The Block but it delivers exactly what you think it will, nothing more, nothing less.  Good plot, good pace, OK script, weak characterisation, moments of humour, a big plot continuity error, shame Geoff Bell was wasted, think Alien meets Hollyoaks and you’ve just about got it.  Also look up SPLIT SECOND whilst you’re at it.

5/10 – Brit Pic Dick

Review by Matt Usher below



One thought on “STORAGE 24

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    Noel Clarke was a semi-regular co-star in Doctor Who (2005-10) and arguably first made his name there. He’s a Britpic-jack-of-all-trades, so what did he learn from his time on the show? What tricks and techniques did he absorb from working on a high profile, high pressure TV series with a talented, resourceful creative team? And how did he apply that knowledge to STORAGE 24, which he conceived/co-wrote/ produced/starred in?

    He learnt the importance of corridors. People (and a monster – this is a slightly comic sci-fi horror) run up and down them and have slightly intense conversations and confrontations in them. The production designer must’ve been delighted. There are other Doctor Who influences I’ll get to later, but this is a corridors movie (a genre I’ve just invented).

    Being both set in a storage facility and named after one, the film fails to do anything with the notion (characters ransack some lockers looking for weapons but that’s about it). Surely the warehouse should have had some thematic or dramatic relevance to the story? Wrong. It’s here to provide corridors (and ventilation shafts). I expected the enemy to be secreted inside a locker, left by some overambitious terrorist or scientist whose laboratory is too small. No, the alien falls out of a plane and lands in a maze of corridors with a surprisingly small cast of potential victims. It’s as if the film-makers thought ‘where can we find an enclosed space with lots of corridors and few people?’ and then thought no more.

    Noel Clarke miscasts himself in the lead. He introduces himself to us as a man in a quandary – he’s just been dumped but can’t understand why. The way it’s written it’s clear that the character is meant to be one of life’s eternal losers. Actor Clarke thinks he’s playing James Bond, whereas writer Clarke clearly envisages Ronnie Corbett. The character’s arc is pretty straightforward (neurotic-weedy-non-entity-finds-courage-and-wins-through-in-the-end). But the way Clarke plays it, his triumph is never in doubt. When he asks ‘is it me?’ the character should be wittering, worried, desperate to appease; the way Clarke plays it his subtext is clearly ‘if it is me you can $@*# yourself ‘cos I don’t care’.

    Having been discarded by his girlfriend Clarke is en route to Storage 24 to pick up his stuff. I think there’s an explanation why it’s in storage rather than, say, at their house, but there might not be. Coming along for the ride is his best buddy (Colin O’Donoghue). During the journey a massive explosion happens very nearby but our hero has other things to worry about.

    On reaching his cubicle he’s disconcerted to find his former lady love (creepy whispering Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and her best buddy (Laura Haddock – I’m so happy she never changed her name) already dividing up the stuff. They’re even more disconcerted when a Forbidden Dalliance comes to light. And even more disconcerted when a space alien / top-secret-government-authorised-genetically-modified-pretend-space-monster turns up and starts ripping people apart. The guzzling beast concentrates mostly on minor characters, including an engineer played by the eternally-doomed-to-be-shredded Geoff Bell. (The body count is surprisingly low seeing as it’s a film about a rampaging alien, but it’s also surprisingly high given how many people might wander around a storage facility in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack / plane crash / disaster). More characters/alien-fodder turn up, corridors are traversed at various speeds, and the focus becomes the search for the remote control which opens the main doors to safety and the outside world.

    Loathe as I am to admit it, in some respects STORAGE 24 has some similarities to Doctor Who. Characterisation is broad, but the film doesn’t have the actors who can add depth. And there’s an attempt to balance personal crises with an alien infestation. But whereas Doctor Who tends to manage the ‘the aliens are coming / I’m pregnant’ material quite well, here it’s cack-handed. At first it’s played for laughs as Clarke complains about how miserable he is and pays no attention to a news report suggesting imminent Armageddon. Five minutes later the film behaves like Clarke’s character as our heroes play out the final stages of a love triangle and completely forget about the beast in the cellar. And I suppose the resolution involving the toy is something that a Doctor might come up with on a bad day.

    In the end it feels either like a first project for those involved (though Clarke had already done KIDULTHOOD and Johannes Roberts had already directed the much better F) or else a practice run for something else. Those are the excuses I can think of for a huge continuity error (unless it isn’t). At one point Laura Haddock looks to the ceiling; we cut to a corridor and hear a blood-curdling female scream. But next time we see her she’s fine. So I naturally assumed that she’d been taken over by the monster. NON-SPOILER ALERT: she hadn’t. Presumably the scream belonged to the bit-part player who’d lost her dog. Or maybe Haddock saw a spider.

    The script is a standard-issue box-ticking flat-pack kit assembled by someone who’s read some script-writing manuals but lacks individuality. It’s not much to look at either, particularly if you take against the warehouse’s ugly colour scheme. Atmosphere would have been a bonus; it’s perfectly nice-looking, shiny and beige. The monster itself is underwhelming, over-lit and not scary, and just at the moment I can’t remember what it looked like – possibly a robotic ostrich-chicken. The whole film should have been a lot funnier and a lot scarier. There is nothing to set the pulse racing, partly because the protagonists’ objective is: open a door. As a low-budget, low-stakes effort STORAGE 24 is amiable, inoffensive, a very slightly macabre teddy bear of a film. It’s solidly bland, passes the time without being too annoying, tells its story straightforwardly but without zest, and serves as a calling-card for those involved (albeit a calling card which says ‘we made a spectacularly average film’).

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