“Storage 24” is much like a medical experiment gone awry; it’s a hideous monstrosity stitched together from rotten spare parts that don’t match up. Let’s say that the body is an especially low-grade ripoff of “Alien,” with a small number of people wandering down dark corridors while an interstellar creature stalks them one by one. In place of an arm, there’s a leg, and that represents the portion of the plot devoted to a rather predictable and unsatisfying relationship drama. In place of a leg, there’s a hand with missing fingers. Let that represent the sections of the film with a dry sense of humor, which are not only uselessly sporadic but also teeth-gnashingly inappropriate. In place of a heart, there’s a block of ice. That can symbolize the apparent coldness director Johaness Roberts has for audiences.
The problem is twofold: Not only are there drastic shifts in tone, Roberts also made the dreaded mistake of taking the innately ridiculous material seriously. With just a little more work, he could have made a rather effective parody. Lord knows the film is rife with the kinds of clichés we no longer have any patience for, except if they’re being mocked. Of those, the most glaring seem to have been taken straight from the frames of a teen slasher film. I’m referring, of course, to characters that wander off stupidly and nervously call out, “Hello? Hello?” before being hit with a false alarm, breathing a quick sigh of relief, and then finally being attacked by the monster hiding in the shadows. Roberts could have had some real fun with this. That’s really all that can be done, considering how overused these clichés are.
The film basically consists of several people wandering the unit-laden hallways of a London warehouse as they try to evade an alien creature. How did it come to be there, you ask? In a twist of fate eerily similar to “Super 8,” a military plane crash lands in the middle of the city, causing its top-secret cargo to escape. We know this is no ordinary plane crash very early on, when a woman walking her dog passes by. Convention dictates that the poor animal must start barking in the direction of a seemingly deserted alley, break free from its leash, run into the alley, disappear into a dark corner, and, without being seen by the audience, meet its end with a pathetic whimper. It’s bad enough that human beings will be slaughtered in the course of this movie. Why do helpless pets need to suffer the same fate?
Within the warehouse, which has been in lockdown mode ever since the crash, we find several trapped individuals – and one alien, which, when finally seen in direct light, looks not at all unlike a reject from a 1950s Atomic Age movie. Of the human characters, there’s Charlie (Noel Clarke), who spends the entire film brooding over being dumped. There’s his ex-girlfriend, Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), who’s at the warehouse so that she can sort her stuff from Charlie’s. There’s Charlie’s friend, Mark (Colin O’Donoghue), whose purpose is not made clear until about twenty minutes into the film, and I’m afraid I can’t say any more than that. And then we have Nikki and Chris (Laura Haddock and Jamie Thomas King), two of Shelley’s friends. They have no purpose at all apart from looking scared.
They’re eventually joined by David (Ned Dennehy), a paranoid nut who has lived in the warehouse ever since being kicked out of his house by his unseen wife. Initially, he believes that Charlie and the others were sent by her as some form of payback. The film never addresses how he has been able to live in a warehouse without the employees knowing about it, although I suppose this is something we’re not supposed to question. Regardless, when he’s finally made aware of the alien creature, he’s the one who suggests that Charlie and Mark raid the storage units for weapons. Not real weapons, mind you. In fact, the most dangerous item they find is a package of firecrackers. Anyway, the lead men go from one unit to another via a series of ventilation tubes in the ceiling. At this point, it seems that “Alien” has found its way back into the plot – minus the suspense, the terror, and the plausibility.
A few select scenes are reserved for gory makeup effects. This would be fine were it not for the fact that Roberts aims for cheap laughs rather than horrifying screams. Consider a moment when Charlie sneaks up on the body of a man who had been severed in half at the waist and whose guts are spread all across the floor; although logic would dictate that this man would be dead, he quite suddenly springs forward and grabs hold of Charlie’s neck, gurgling through a mouthful of blood. If there’s one thing “Storage 24” didn’t need, it was a throwaway popout scare, especially one this blatantly over the top. The only way this scene would have worked is if the entire film had been made on the same level. That would mean having to scrap the pointless relationship drama between Charlie and Shelley. Why Roberts thought that would work in this kind of movie, I have no idea.