Storage 24 (2012) – Directed by Johannes Roberts – Starring Noel Clarke, Colin O’Donoghue, Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Laura Haddock, Jamie Thomas King, Alex Price, and Ned Dennehy.
I really like the look, feel, and sensibilities of the modern British horror film. There’s a slickness to the movies, but there’s also a firm foundation of solid, real characters that ground the sometimes wild mix of science fiction and horror. STORAGE 24 isn’t as good as Attack the Block or Grabbers, but it’s still a good movie and a solid 90 minutes for your eyeballs when you want to crash on the couch.
STORAGE 24 wisely keeps the plot simple: a military plane crashes, an alien monster gets loose, and a bunch of folks get stuck inside a storage facility with it.
Unlike the recent-watch, Grabbers, there’s not much humor in STORAGE 24, as the cadre of writers and director Johannes Roberts have decided watching your friends and associates get devoured by an alien created from leftover parts of every alien monster movie ever isn’t a cause for many chuckles. They’ve replaced humor with some emotional drama, as the majority of people trapped in the storage facility are friends. It’s mostly successful, though it does unnecessarily weigh the film down early on.
At the center of the emotional anchor is Charlie (Noel Clarke, who is also credited with the original idea for the film), who has recently been dumped by Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes). On the day of the plane crash, Charlie is on the way to the storage facility to get an answer from Shelley about why he got kicked to the curb. She gives him the ol’ “you didn’t do anything wrong” line which we all know is horrible girlfriend code for “I’m sleeping with your best friend.”
Charlie realizes what Shelley and Mark (Colin O’Donoghue) are doing right around the time they realize something is going seriously wrong. They’re joined by Shelley’s best friend, Nikki (Laura Haddock) and her loser boyfriend, Chris (Jamie Thomas King), and they compose the main part of the cast. The film suffers a bit from having a host of secondary characters around because you can tell pretty early on that they’re just there to serve as monster filler while the main cast runs around working out their issues, but the pacing is still really good. Once we get everyone inside the facility and the infidelity between Shelley and Mark (never trust a guy named Mark with your girlfriend) is outed, the film manages to be pretty entertaining.
It’s a hard group of people to really embrace, however. I’m all for adding some human emotional drama to a film, but Charlie is a bit too “can’t let go,” Mark slept with his girlfriend, his now ex-girlfriend slept with his best mate, and Nikki’s boyfriend is a toolbag. That leaves Nikki as really the only likable person in the film, though once Charlie finds out about Shelley and Mark, it at least gives the audience a reason to feel some empathy for him, and his drive to get out of the storage facility is really a drive to get away from them. The filmmakers make that work to the film’s benefit, as Charlie becomes the film’s central engine, pushing everything forward.
Predictably, and unfortunately, STORAGE 24 is the kind of film that stacks things in Charlie’s favor a bit too much. Shelley tells him he just didn’t excite her anymore, but Mark is revealed to be a bit of a loser, abandoning several people to the monster, only to have them be not really dead. Nikki’s boyfriend is a tool and he gets eaten, too, potentially leaving Charlie with two ladies to choose from. It’s to the film’s immense credit that they tack on neither a mopey get-back-togeter with Shelley (the film, in fact, has Charlie reject her offer for a ride away from the facility) nor a hook-up with Nikki. The film ends with the three of them getting out of the facility and Charlie doing just what he said – walking away from all of them.
Films like STORAGE 24 largely fail or succeed, however, in the “running around and trying not get killed as we wait for someone to think of a solution” middle, and I’m pleased to say that this film delivers a really strong middle, thanks in part to the inclusion of Ned Dennehy as a guy whose moved into the facility on a permanent basis. STORAGE 24 is paced really well and has a nice, grey-dominated palette and plenty of shadows. The monster isn’t high-end believable, but I’m never too bothered by that. I’m more impressed with the solid script and excellent, stylish direction from Roberts. There’s a few times when his camera movement (sliding behind a barrier, for instance) helps to sell the shot and raise the tension.
STORAGE 24 isn’t going to be a movie I’m going to rush out and buy on Blu-ray, but it is a film that makes having Netflix worthwhile. It’s a good, not great, movie, that fits the need if your in the mood for a solid monster movie.