A contrived and shoddily-executed warehouse thriller from the writing desk of Noel Clarke
Poor London. For over 100 years, the capital has been suffering invasions of various kinds, from HG Wells' Martians in 'The War of the Worlds' in 1898, to summer Olympians 10 years later. 2012 offers similar aggressive, alien visitors, not just of the sporting variety, but of the extraterrestrial.
Based on an 'original idea and screenplay' by Noel Clarke, Storage 24 opens with a top-secret American Air Force plane accidentally dumping its mysterious cargo over the London skyline, right on top of our titular building, while a bunch of young, urban types find themselves locked in with a frightful beastie overnight.
With previous projects running the gamut from inner-city grime (Kidulthood, Adulthood) to transatlantic crime (188.8.131.52.) – and even international sporting events (the recently-released Fast Girls) – it seems that Noel Clarke is slowly rinsing his hometown dry of potential film ideas.
As such it’s no wonder – especially considering his upcoming appearance in JJ Abrams Star Trek sequel – that he’s chosen to seek out new life and new civilisations which this Alien-cribbing horror. It’s just a shame that so many have boldly been there before, including, most notably, Joe Cornish, whose aliens-versus-hoodies stand-off Attack the Block last year married invasion-movie tropes with British social specifics.
In Storage 24, Clarke, director Johannes Roberts (F), and co-writers Davie Fairbanks and Marc Small take a similar approach, but move the action slightly upriver, replacing a South London high-rise with a self-storage warehouse near Battersea. With the script passing through so many hands, it’s a marvel that the film is so devoid of fresh ideas.
While a warehouse may sound like a prime location for a claustrophobic chiller, once the concept leaves the pitching stage, it soon becomes clear that storage facilities are home to the same tired trifecta of corridors, air vents and basements that have sent shivers down protagonists’ spines for generations.
Such a mixture of contrivance and cliche is ripe for reinvigoration, but Roberts’ reliance on tension-shock cycles and jump-out-of-seat decibel levels becomes tired – and tiring – very quickly, and the film’s cast of characters are as anonymous as they come.
There isn’t a likeable one in the whole bunch, and each are reduced to pawns in a particularly predictable subplot, in which Charlie’s (Noel Clarke) two significant others – his girlfriend (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and his best mate (Colin O’Donoghue) – turn out to have been surreptitiously boinking for some time.
It’s under-developed padding, for sure, but it sits easily alongside the conventional set pieces and weak gags that plague the film. It won’t be long until you hope that the characters get their comeuppance – not for plot-intrinsic transgressions, but for simply being so damn boring.
Unfortunately, they’re up against a seven-foot tall monolith of claws and jaws whose only special power is the monstrous ability to turn off lights in any room, and whose fatal weaknesses include fireworks, crowbars, and battery-operated toy dogs.
Indeed, both the alien threat, and the lingering memory of Storage 24 are short-lived. Let’s see if we can say that about London’s other invaders later this summer.
Why doesn’t the UK film industry pump out more sci-fi/horror flicks?
Oh, that’s why. One flawed concept, dragged out for 90 uninspired, shoddily-executed minutes.
Where’s that Attack the Block DVD?