A London self-storage facility provides an appropriately eerie location for “Storage 24,” an amiably routine genre pic that combines sci-fi and horror elements. The latest effort from energetic multihyphenate Noel Clarke, credited here with producing, screenwriting and acting, the film follows hot on the heels of the disappointing domestic returns for athletics drama “Fast Girls,” which Clarke co-wrote and appeared in. British auds bamboozled by recent headscratcher “Prometheus” may happily seek incarceration with this unpretentious low-budgeter, which pits a bunch of twentysomethings against a deadly alien. Principal value should be unlocked when Universal transfers the item to ancillary.
Plot contrives to have Charlie (Clarke) and his best friend, Mark (Colin O’Donoghue), arrive at the titular depot just as Charlie’s ex-g.f., Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), is collecting some of their shared belongings, with two friends in tow. When a military cargo plane containing highly classified contents crashes nearby, a power cut traps the quintet inside. They soon realize they are not alone.
Director Johannes Roberts proved an efficient orchestrator of scares with 2010’s “F,” a microbudget slasher thriller set after hours at a British high school. Once again, he brings a sense of peril to a mostly deserted space, amplified here by a greater sense of enclosure and a more formidable foe that can move through air vents and strike any time, anywhere.
Script benefits from flashes of humor, notably as the self-involved Charlie, wounded at being inexplicably dumped by Shelley, focuses on his relationship woes rather than the pressing issues of survival. However, as the pace picks up, Clarke unashamedly develops his own character in an extravagantly heroic direction, while sending another member of the group into a hissable downward moral spiral
Dressed in generic suit-and-tie office garb and self-identifying as the boring one among his peers, Charlie provides an easily rootable Everyman protag and a nice fit for Clarke’s line in rising macho indignation. The surprise perf, however, comes courtesy of the sexy, charismatic O’Donoghue.
Pic also wittily utilizes objects from the self-storage units; as in Joe Cornish’s hoodies-vs.-aliens adventure “Attack the Block,” high-powered fireworks play a crucial role in dispatching the enemy, although any unoriginality is tempered by the highly comic use of a battery-powered toy dog to deliver the fiery cargo. The basic premise, involving an alien escaping from military captors, also has a recent antecedent in “Super 8.”
With much of the limited production coin well spent on the slimy, CGI-augmented alien, the production design is notably thrifty, and auds’ eyeballs may eventually tire of the facility’s endless corrugated aluminum and yellow paint. The mostly electronic score, which moves steadily from pulsing to pounding, works overtime to up the tension.