Review: Storage 24
Review by Nia Edwards-Behi
I knew very little about Storage 24 before going to see it this evening. I knew it starred Noel Clarke, whose films I don’t tend to go see, and that it was directed by Johannes Roberts, whose films I (foolishly) have yet to make the effort to go back and watch. I was actually at the event that first screened F, but, due to the joys of living in the middle of nowhere, had to leave to catch a train just before the screening. Gah! Enough of that. I also knew this film had something to do with aliens, and presumably, some storage. The actual premise of the film is deceptively, but mercifully simple: a group of people are trapped in a large storage unit – with a crash-landed alien monster. What the film actually delivers is some wonderful atmosphere, humour and human characterisation, all wrapped within this very familiar situation.
We see the alien very early on. Oh, I thought. Has this film played its cards too soon? As it turns out, no, because it made no difference whatsoever to the film’s tension or its scares, and I’m not sure it would matter at all, in fact, what the alien itself looked like. The horror of the film consisted mostly, for me, of the fun sort of jump scares. Not those cynical, weak jump scares that make me resent a whole film, but rather those wonderfully crafted sequences that are so full of tension that I almost have to laugh as release; those sequences where I know full well that something is coming but I still jump a mile out of my skin. There were a few of those for me. My friends who were with me, and the lady in the row in front and I think the kids in the back row, all squeaked, jumped and giggled throughout the film and in all the right places. Having said that, the design of the alien itself is fabulous, all dripping grossness and ridiculous appendages, and boasts some nice practical effects. All this tension is wonderfully directed by Roberts, whose camera goes everywhere. It’s fluid as it clambers over the storage facility, and intrusive as it hones in the eyes of doomed characters.
The strength of the film – and I realise I’m probably repeating something I’ve said very often – lies not in its jumps, but in its wonderful characters. The main group of people trapped by this creature are young and annoying, yet are somehow relatable. They’re annoying because they’re flawed, not because they’re badly written. Key to this group is Noel Clarke’s central character, Charlie, who is infinitely sympathetic, somehow counter balancing the other characters. Slightly dim, at first sight, and slightly annoying, maybe, he brings a great deal of humour to the film, despite having been dumped by his girlfriend and trapped in the storage facility with her and two of her friends as they try to sort through their possessions. He’s there with his best friend, Mark (played wonderfully by Colin O’Donoghue, a role that would clearly be taken by Fassbender in bigger production), who slowly unravels as one of the film’s more multi-faceted characters. The dynamic of this group works wonderfully, with Charlie always acting as pivot between them. As secrets are revealed the film risks turning soap opera, but this aspect of the film is well-balanced with the alien-invasion action.
Special mention has to go to the film’s soundtrack. It’s a real throwback to shoddier sci-films, and brings a great cohesion to the sense of fun that’s to be had in the film. It nicely crystallises the two sides to the film – on the one hand, it’s very aware of its generic roots, and pays great homage to them, while at the same time offering a degree of genuine humour (you laugh with the film, not at it) that never once seems out of place. I genuinely laughed out loud at some moments of absolute silliness, and it’s testament to the precise nature of the film that it sustains its tension alongside, and not against, that playfulness.
I hope lots of people go watch Storage 24. It’s nice to have a British genre film in cinemas that is genuinely well-crafted as well as being genuinely fun. Johannes Roberts will be continuing onwards and upwards, I think… now excuse me while I finally go buy the rest of his films.
Storage 24 is on general release in Britain now. Click here to read Keri’s recent interview with Johannes Roberts.