Movie Review: Storage 24 / Cert: 15 / Director: Johannes Roberts / Screenplay: Noel Clarke, Davie Fairbanks, Marc Small / Starring: Noel Clarke, Laura Haddock, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Colin O'Donoghue / Release Date: June 29th
Storage 24, a slick, fast-paced, darkly witty British monster movie, is a refreshing change of pace from all the colour and bombast of this year’s crop of Hollywood super-hero and sci-fi blockbusters.
Whilst it’s true that there’s nothing here genre fans haven’t seen many times before - a small group trapped in a confined space hunted by a voracious alien predator, a desperate and claustrophobic journey through cramped ventilation shafts to name but two old friends - this lively, energetic film comes across as an affectionate homage to hoary old sci-fi clichés rather than as a tired, derivative, seen-all-this-before-thanks rip-off. A zippy, funny, no-nonsense script, pin-sharp performances and edgy, subtle direction combine to make Storage 24 another worthy addition to a slowly growing line of modern inventive low-budget British science-fiction movies.
Then again Storage 24, with its slavering alien prowling dark corridors, its twisted character relationships and near-the-knuckle gore, is as much a horror movie as a SF yarn. The always-likable Clarke is in his element playing jack-the-lad Charlie, frustrated by the fact that he’s been dumped - for no apparent reason - by his girlfriend Shelley (Lead Balloon’s Campbell-Hughes). Even his best friend Mark (O’Donoghue) can offer nothing much more than a shoulder to cry on. Together the pair make their way to Storage 24, a massive and depressing storage facility in the centre of London just as the city’s plunged into crisis by the unexplained crashing of a military transport aircraft. At the storage unit they find Shelley already working on splitting up the fractured couple’s belongings with the help of her friend Nikki (Laura Haddock) and her boyfriend Chris (King). There’s a fiery confrontation between Charlie and Shelley just as the lights go out - and the group discover they’re trapped in the storage facility which has sealed itself shut. Worse still, it soon becomes apparent that they’re not alone; something nasty, vicious and distinctly inhuman is stalking the corridors of Storage 24. It’s killed already and it’s still out for blood…
That, in a nutshell, is your story. But it’s one deliciously enjoyable nutshell, a smart and modern take on the oldest trick in the sci-fi book as an ostensibly routine and mundane scenario is turned upside down into a living nightmare by the introduction of something way beyond the understanding of our luckless protagonists. Clarke has populated his script with thoroughly-believable people behaving in an entirely rational manner; they’re by turns puzzled, confused, terrified and eventually driven by a desperate instinct for survival. Cult director Johannes Roberts has great fun with his confined location, making good use of the narrow corridors, shadowy windowless storage chambers and clanging pipes and the film benefits enormously from the fact that its monster, a well-realised great slavering twelve-foot Alien/Predator hybrid is a physical costume rather than some shonky CGI creation. At its most hair-raising, the creature bounds and springs along the corridors in pursuit of its screaming prey and when it strikes it does so with a savageness which must have taken Storage 24 right to the edge of what’s acceptable in a 15-certificate movie; prepare yourself for bodies torn in half, faces sliced off and generous buckets of blood.
2012 will give us (and has already given us) bigger, brasher, cleverer films, but Storage 24 is just too good and too smart (and with a killer final scene pay-off which the budget just about copes with) to be dismissed as simply another cheap and cheesy British wannabe. Storage 24 doesn’t reinvent the SF wheel but then it’s not trying to. All it’s doing is telling an exciting, scary, nail-biting story about helpless ordinary people fighting a big alien monster and come on, don’t tell me that ever gets old.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10