Romantic melodrama and a rampaging alien prove uncomfortable bedfellows in Storage 24, a tense sci-fi shocker that, while lean, would have benefitted greatly from a little more mean. Working from the simple concept of a small group trapped in a confined space with an omnivorous extraterrestrial, screenwriters Noel Clarke, Davie Fairbanks (both of whom also star), Marc Small and Johannes Roberts do precious little to improve on the formula perfected by Ridley Scott back in 1979. At the same time, director Roberts lazily attempts to achieve a claustrophobic atmosphere by shooting the film almost entirely in close-ups -- a severely limiting technique that makes Storage 24 a visual chore to sit through.
When an Air Force cargo plane carrying a mysterious cache crashes in the heart of the London, the entire city is placed under quarantine. Meanwhile, heartbroken Charlie (Clarke) and his best mate Mark (Colin O'Donoghue) are en route to a local storage facility to gather up some personal items following a bitter breakup between Charlie and Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes). Upon arriving, Charlie and Mark are greeted by an electrician who’s working to open the front gate following a power outage. Eventually they manage to get in, only to find Shelley sorting through the unit with help from Nikki (Laura Haddock) and Chris (Jamie Thomas King). Later, as the lights in the storage facility flicker on and off, the foursome realize they are trapped inside with a killer creature of unknown origin. With the aid of eccentric divorce David (Ned Dennehy), who has recently moved into his unit to escape the wrath of his crazy ex-wife, the terrified group realize that their only hope for survival is to find a means of escaping a building specifically designed to keep its contents completely secure.
With a plot that’s been done to death over the past 30 years, a screenplay that fails to do justice to two disparate genres, forgettable characters, and a visual scheme that’s a total eyesore, there aren’t a lot of good things to say about Storage 24, save for the fact that Roberts and his crew manage to make fairly impressive use of an obviously small budget. Although cinematographer Tim Sidell does manage to deliver some impressive layered imagery in the opening act, his constant use of rack focus quickly grows tiresome once the stage has been set for mayhem. It’s hard to blame him for any of Storage 24’s many shortcomings though, because even with four writers on the job, original ideas prove few and far between as our protagonists crawl through narrow vents in search of weapons and search desperately for a way out. There are a few playful surprises, such as a small robot dog armed with powerful fireworks and some gruesome practical effects, but the tall and toothy B-movie menace at the core of the film simply looks too cheesy to be perceived as a real threat, and the more the characters bicker, the more we just long for their faces to get chewed off as quickly as humanly (or inhumanly) possible.
A veteran of the celebrated Doctor Who reboot, writer/star Clarke is no stranger to sci-fi. Sadly, his writing here is just as bland as his one-dimensional characters, giving us little to root for as we wait to see where the towering alien will pop up next (which is usually in the place you most expect it). Occasionally a filmmaker will pull off the impressive feat of turning a familiar plot or collection of cliches into something exciting and original; in Storage 24, those hackneyed elements just feel stale.
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