The new sci-fi horror Storage 24 with Noel Clarke on writer, producer and acting duties and directed by Johannes Roberts is set in London where a group of unsuspecting characters trapped within the titular storage facility when a military plane crashes nearby. A minimum wage employee clad in the company’s bright yellow colours, an engineer sent to fix disrupted security gates and a permanent resident join the core set of five, mostly former friends, who spend the night under siege from a belligerent escaped alien.
Clarke appears as Charlie, who has recently been left by Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), his girlfriend of five years. He is visiting the storage unit with his friend Mark (Colin O’Donoghue) to divvy up his share of the couple’s furniture. Charlie is an insufferable whining man who is oblivious to how irritating he has become even to his best friend Mark. Finding Shelley also at the storage unit with her friends Nikki (Laura Haddock) and Chris (Jamie Thomas King), the stage is set for a repeat of another confrontation between the former couple and friends. However, once the group finds itself under attack by the alien, they begin to begrudgingly work together to attempt to stay alive.
The influence of Alien (1979) is clear throughout Storage 24 with a locked down building replacing a ship and a group of friends instead of a crew. The film starts out well using the industrial setting to full advantage when allied to a sci-fi genre premise. However, unlike Alien Clarke has not invested enough time in the script to facilitate the type of psychological tension found in Ridley Scott’s classic. To create a sense of horror Roberts floods the film with tight close-ups of frightened faces. The soundtrack resembles a lesson on Scary Sounds for Dummies which are meant to add to the jolts whenever the alien makes a bloody mess of anyone she (the alien is apparently female) decides to hunt down. There are more shots of empty corridors than in The Shining as we are expected to feel unnerved by the group’s isolated surroundings but result in yet another shot of an empty corridor with bright yellow doors. The alien, at first quite promising in its design, is not consigned to the shadows and being shown in detail becomes less and less a source of horror as the obvious budget restrictions and plain poor CGI used becomes apparent.
Lack of budget can be overlooked but not the poor quality of the script. Clarke’s screenplay manages to quickly avoid tension, humour or characters one would want to root for in such a situation. By the third act, quite like Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea, one might even find oneself rooting for the attacking creature to become successful against the humans.
If a filmmaker wishes to recreate a horror genre scenario in London, Clarke might have taken a lesson from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead (2004). Shaun clearly pays homage to zombie movies, but had the writing skills to play to its own strengths and have a script with an emotional impact, humour and well developed characters, even on a restricted budget. At just 87 minutes, Storage 24 resembles a short film that has been stretched out well passed its ability with bewildering personality turns and an obvious hair continuity error for the character Shelley. The cast, particularly O’Donoghue, do their best with a lacklustre script while, as with the recent Fast Girls, Clarke keeps the slightly better lines for himself.
UK Release Date: 29th June