Storage 24 2012

film Review

Noel Clarke writes and stars in another London-set story but this time with a sci-fi twist, co-starring with a blood-thirsty alien in Storage 24.

Noel Clarke has developed into the B-movie writing king of London-set movies. The promising start he had with Kidulthood and its sequel Adulthood seems to have spiralled in the last year or so with the lightweight 4.3.2.1 and Fast Girls. Despite a change in genre, Storage 24, a sci-fi monster film, continues that trend, shamelessly borrowing plenty of elements from Ridley Scott’s classic Alien. Also coming a year after the similar, vastly-superior Attack the Block, this was quickly passed over in the cinemas.

The film begins with an explosion in London that turns out to be a plane crash… but what was the plane carrying? It causes the security shutters at a nearby storage facility (Storage 24, of course) to play up, trapping a few people inside for the majority of the day. On the way to the warehouse is Charlie (Noel Clarke), who has recently split from his girlfriend, Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), along with his buddy Mark (Colin O’Donoghue) to pick up his stuff.

Not-so-coincidently, Shelley also happens to be there with a couple of friends, including Nikki (Laura Haddock). Their coming together results in a lot of arguing and shouting, but they soon realise that it’s not each other they should be worried about. Something from the earlier crash enters the premises – something not from this world. With the shutters locking the group inside, they are slowly picked off one-by-one.

The familiar premise of Alien is transported from space to a conveniently looking spaceship-type setting. Noel Clarke has obviously had this in mind because the similarities are straight out of the D-I-Y monster sci-fi handbook. You might think this is another Cabin in the Woods with the recognizable group dynamic character traits, in addition to the blatant plot twists. Alas, if only this was anything near that clever.

Instead all you get are the clichés but none of the satire and what starts off intriguing ends up being a predictable piece of film-making. A big reason for this is the fact that you don’t actually see the creature until about 20 minutes in and when you do, you realise the film actually works better without it. And that’s not just because it features the poor special effects of a guy in a latex suit.

Clearly produced on a limited budget, the monster turns out to be some gangly-legged Predator/The Fly hybrid which has the fear factor of a gnat. Unfortunately, B-movie director Johanne Roberts insists on showing this rubbery creature at every opportunity once it has been revealed.

The storyline is padded out with a predictable love-triangle and some odd character development, but the characters hardly develop – they evolve into nothing more than the opposite of how they started. Plot holes aplenty too, a glaring one being that the creature is clearly as tall as the warehouse yet somehow managed to get into the place through a vent, as well as moving freely around in it.

As the writer and star, Noel Clarke should take responsibility for this. He appears to have concentrated most of his efforts on giving himself the best lines – although his interplay with Colin O’Donoghue is actually one of the few positives in the film. The remaining cast do not have much else to do except say something silly, look scared, or die – if not all of that together.

Overall there’s a certain element of fun with a couple of decent death scenes and an ingenuous attack on the creature with a toy dog, but them apart, Storage 24 is barely entertaining enough for a Friday night in with the boys. Go for Attack the Block instead – it is wittier, grittier, and altogether a more enjoyable watch. Or just watch Alien again.

Best scene: A load of fireworks strapped onto a yapping toy dog facing up to the alien creature – the only original idea in the film.

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