How do you make an alien monster movie on a shoestring budget? Set it in a storage warehouse facility in South London of course. Johannes Roberts’ newest horror film, Storage 24 tells the story of Charlie (Noel Clarke) and his estranged ex-girlfriend Shelly (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) as they come to blows over the contents of a lock up, and the exposed relationship Shelly has been having with Charlie’s best friend, Mark (Colin O’Donoghue). The film begins with a military plane crash nearby (off-screen of course), which was transporting a hideous, carnivorous alien. The alien escapes, and for some reason flees into the storage facility. And so Charlie and Shelly, they along with their friends, find themselves locked in the facility with seemingly no escape from the alien.
As the narrative unfolds, the alien wrecks havoc, picking off the cast members one by one in gruesome fashion, all juxtaposed with the tensions between Charlie, Shelly and Mark. Using the various items found in storage lock-ups (toys, fireworks, hammers and crowbars), the group attempt to fight off the alien while plotting their escape.
Storage 24 itself is pleasantly entertaining, if completely unoriginal. It has more than a few passing nods to (or rip-offs of, depending on your inclination) the Alien films. The opening titles in Storage 24 are reminiscent to the lingering panning shots of the Nostromo, and the musical score that plays cannot fail to remind of James Horner’s score from Aliens. There are claustrophobic ˜tunnel’ scenes that are very similar to Dallas in the air ducts in Alien and Bishop in the service tunnel in Aliens. Even one of the most memorable scenes from Aliens, when Hicks looks in the roof space to see a horde of xenomorphs clambering toward him, is quasi-recreated (albeit nowhere near as spectacular). There are countless other signifiers to these and other alien films, which I’m sure other viewers will recognise too. Perhaps that was the intention, but if so, it is executed poorly, and feels more like unoriginality than subtle homages to past greats.
The fact that the central premise revolves around a relationship breakdown, and the alien is somehow secondary, is also a recycled and tired format (perhaps best recently played out in Cloverfield). Setting a strained relationship against the backdrop of an extreme exteriority (in this case, an alien invasion) is a common story-telling technique. However in Storage 24, Roberts only really just manages to pull this off with any craft, and the painfully static acting from Campbell-Hughes does not help his plight. Clarke is however extremely competent in his role, mixing ex-boyfriend angst, alpha male machoism and terrified alien fodder to near perfection. The low budget of the film is not evident in the creature, it is well detailed, and genuinely scary (in the first half of the film anyway). However, the constant close-ups in order to reduce the need for large expensive sets does not really induce claustrophobia to any great extent (which would have added to the tension), only annoyance. In some cases, the cardboard, painted backgrounds that were there to convey distance and perspective are all to obvious.
Storage 24 builds to a fitting climax, with clever use of the various items found in the lock up; and the final epilogue is particularly noteworthy too. But the general predictability, unoriginality and overall average performances make for an enjoyable experience, but sadly, not a memorable one.