Noel Clarke meets the monster in "Storage 24."
It's the utter randomness of the British "trapped in a building with a monster" movie "Storage 24" that ultimately undoes "Darkhunters" director Johannes Roberts' latest. The characters--a mix of lovers and friends who don't seem like they would talk to each other unless they were, you know, trapped in a huge storage facility together, are a poor match for the film's alternately 9-16' tall monster. And without that connection, without any theme linking the would-be victims of and victors against this splay-mouthed beast, "Storage 24" ends up one of the alternately better produced bad "Alien" knockoffs out there.
When a military plane crashes over London, estranged couple Charlie (Noel Clarke, "Doctor Who") and Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes, "Lotus Eaters") are, along with their bickering friends, trapped inside of a massive storage facility where something tall and toothy is on the loose killing people for some reason. Meanwhile, outside, tanks are being mobilized in the streets while the military responds to an unidentified aircraft making its way over the city.
"Storage 24," from a script by co-stars Clarke and Davie Fairbanks ("Greg," the storage facility attendant) attempts to marry a slow-build invasion thriller outside with a claustrophobic monster movie inside and thoroughly failing at both. Between the domestic drama of Shelley and Charlie (there's a rough idea that he needs to become a "better man" to save their relationship, but really he just needs to be better than the horrible guy she's chosen instead), and the poorly-spaced updates on what's happening outside, the ending feels like the clash of two conclusions to two entirely different films.
That scattershot approach is the one constant to Clarke and Fairbanks' script which mixes in moments of absurd comedy with the grim survival story. The whiny Charlie is deeply unlikeable, but then again, so are just about all of the combative, one-dimensional characters. You can see Clarke and Fairbanks trying to hammer these parts into archetypes of the genre--one character becomes a gibbering Veronica Cartwright after an encounter with the creature while another makes an out-of-left-field heel turn in the back half as the obligatory "guy who's out for himself. Alas, none of it works.
Worse, the monster doesn't really belong to any of this in any plausible way. It acts like a slavering beast with no consistent M.O. (or reason for stalking our hapless survivors) save for the dictates of the script. Putting aside some of the purely technical problems of the practical/CG beast (whose size seems to depend on the scene), it's simply not connected in any meaningful way to its victims. Consider "Alien," the movie it's most clearly aping: those characters suffered the repercussions of their own curiosity (and greed--remember, whatever they brought back held the promise of a big bonus). Or how about a more recent invasion picture, Joe Cornish's "Attack the Block" which used its monsters to teach its teen hoodlum leads that not only do actions have consequences, but that they could be more than just criminals from the block. What I'm saying is there's nothing deep or interesting about this particular monster, and lacking anything in terms of even a gimmick to justify its existence, it could just as easily be a guy with a knife menacing the cast.
Beyond some very good gore effects and moments of practical finesse with the monster, "Storage 24" is also a technical mess. An anonymous storage facility makes for an unsurprisingly dull location for a horror movie, mostly featureless with the added problem that it becomes an ever-escalating problem to figure out where the characters are from scene to scene. While that liability could have been turned into an asset (via confusion, misdirection, and such), nothing interesting is done with the space, and by the time the film is over, you want to be out of their as well just so you don't have to see the same long corridors. Any possible tension that "Storage 24" could possibly wring out of its concept is negated by slapdash lighting, especially during the many blackout scenes which absolutely bathe the cast in dull blue light along with the background.
It would be dishonest to say that "Storage 24"--with a little more work--could have been a contender. From a technical standpoint, it's a mixed bag while the stories and characters you're trapped with for an hour and a half offer nothing compelling (besides the opportunity to rack up the body count). If you're looking for a British alien invasion movie to watch, might I suggest "Attack the Block" for a far better time.
"Storage 24" is available now on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD from Magnolia Home Entertainment.