Take three blokes, two blonde girls and one sinister alien creature, trap them inside an enclosed space for 90 minutes, and you've got the somewhat familiar premise of Noel Clarke's latest co-production, which takes a storage locker as its claustrophobic setting of choice. Handing over the directing reins to Johannes Roberts, Clarke penned the script and stars as Charlie, a fairly whiny and uninspiring sort who's just been unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) when the aforementioned extraterrestrial arrives on the scene. If you're thinking this should put his problems into perspective, you're vastly underestimating just how self-centred our hero is.
This is one of those scripts in which you can plot out the arc of every character within the first ten minutes of meeting them - Charlie, in Shaun of the Dead style, is probably going to win back his ex's affections by stepping up to the plate when it counts; the apparently bitchy and shallow girl is going to reveal hidden depths; the arrogant bully is probably not going to come out of this well, and so on and so forth.
The predictability wouldn't be such a problem (this is a film steeped in genre convention and not pretending otherwise) if any one of these people were remotely likeable, but between Clarke and Campbell-Hughes's drippy arguments and the paper-thin surrounding characters, you'll be longing for the alien to chow down on the lot of them.
A soapy twist around the halfway mark seems engineered to inject emotional weight, but serves only to highlight just how little you care. There's a certain charm and authenticity to Laura Haddock (The Inbetweeners Movie) that renders her the one exception to the bland rule, but her character still doesn't come close to feeling developed.
To give Storage 24 its credit, the first ten minutes are genuinely effective, in large part because they don't feature any of the main characters. A mysterious craft crashes in central London, a young woman with a dog wanders, disoriented, through the wreckage, something ambiguously horrifying happens off screen - it's all efficient and dimly creepy stuff, and sets up a more assured tone than the film can sustain.
Once we're inside the storage locker, far too many sequences of characters creeping around in vague peril extend into tedium, while Clarke and Roberts make the ill-advised decision to bring the alien fully out of the shadows for lengthy periods, defying the age-old movie wisdom of "it's scarier not to see". The production values are a few notches higher than we've come to expect from British sci-fi, and the alien doesn't look half bad, but there's no getting around the fact that it's sticky and gooey rather than scary.
Even with thin characterisation, misjudged pacing and a couple of profoundly grating performances, Storage 24 isn't terrible. The worst you could accuse it of being is generic, but given just how little big-screen science fiction gets made on these shores - and given the strength of recent offerings like Moon and Attack the Block - it's hard to make excuses for its failure to be more.