B-movies are a beautiful thing. They can be a fertile breeding ground for films and nowhere is this more apparent than deep within genre territory. You sow your seeds based on a thousand films that have gone before, you throw some filth fertiliser on top and voila, a B-movie that hopefully contains more invention than it does ‘homage’ and, if all goes well, comes with an 18 certificate. But whilst homage is all well and good, the makers of Storage 24 seem content to pay ‘homage’ by copying their more illustrious forbears in the least enthusiastic and staid way possible
Storage 24 is purportedly a film ‘based on an original idea by Noel Clarke’. If that was true I must have blinked and missed the idea. Over the 532 minutes (approximately)* it took the film to play out it was like time had slowed down and it was still the 80’s and John Carpenter had never happened, but of course he had and he was never as unoriginal as this and I couldn’t stop thinking about that and then I realised the film was still on and someone else had died and I didn’t care.
It was terrifying.
You know the story. Shady government planes crash lands, a bunch of characters with various emotional issues become trapped together in a dramatically varied melting pot of horror and drama (in this case a storage facility) and an alien picks them off one by one. Does that sound like it’s been done a million times before? Yes it does. Does that necessarily matter? No, no it doesn’t.
Things whichthat Storage 24 doesn’t copy from its predecessors – invention, originality, scares, bad acting (the cast is surprisingly solid). Things that are copied – low budget, death scenes, the Alien films, a whole heap of genre clichés (but remember – the first time round they weren’t clichés), oh, and then more from the Alien films, for good measure.
But more than simply Alien it’s pretty much a shot for shot rehash of things that were done with infinitely more charm the first time round. Essentially it’s like Gus Van Sant (who alas doesn’t direct – that job was given to Johannes Roberts) decided to follow up his shot for shot Psycho remake with a John Carpenter pastiche but forgot about The Thing. You just can’t forget about The Thing.
Many have defended Storage 24 as a decent piece of prosthetic 80s nostalgia. The high priest of horror Kim Newman for one summed it up as having “one or two serious scares and some excellent creature design work” which “make this a superior British horror sci-fi.” So you know we are in genre territory. But if that’s the case why not make an 80s film that’s 30 years ahead of its time. I want an Unforgiven for fans of intelligent, kitschy scares. I want The Thing but re-imagined 3 decades hence. They already did that you say? In 2011 you say? Don’t be silly.
Noel Clarke may be his very own cottage industry replete with a chimney through which to vent forth how very hard he works, and to be fair, he seems to work bloody hard. With three films out this year in which he’s variously acted, produced and starred he is evidently an industry force to be reckoned with. But, when it comes to reviewing films in which he’s been involved the word industry crops up a little too often for my liking. He knows what makes money on a small budget – or at least, what should – and this seems to guide many of his creative decisions, which is fair enough. But as a guide is where it should end. Astutely targeting certain demographics has served Clarke extremely well in the past. With Storage 24 however he has delivered his most cynical and mechanical construction yet, and that, in an industry based on a synthesis between creativity and finance is just not enough.
*I’m told it’s running time is more like 82 minutes, but what do I know? I only watched the thing…