STORAGE 24 (2012)
Prolific British writer, director, actor and more Noel Clarke returns in his 4th film of 2012, science fiction horror thriller “Storage 24”, directed by Johannes Roberts, helmer of a variety of other home grown shriekers including “F”, “Forest of the Damned” and “Hellbreeder”. Clarke (soon to be seen in the forthcoming “Star Trek into Darkness”) headlines and also co-wrote the film with supporting cast member Davie Fairbanks, their second collaboration of the year along with the utterly dire and merit-free wedding ‘comedy’ “The Knot”. Thankfully, the film is a very different and much more entertaining proposition indeed, and following a successful run in domestic cinemas now lands on region 2 Blu Ray and DVD through Universal, coming with a reasonable clutch of special features including docs on the production and effects, plus video cast video diaries for those who care.
Clarke stars as Charlie, a rather dull and depressed young man who has recently been dumped by his beloved girlfriend Shelley (the waif-like Antonia Campbell-Hughes, “Albert Nobbs”). En route to the storage depot of the title with his best friend Mark (Irish actor Colin O’Donoghue, recently in “The Rite”) to meet her and their friends and sort through their shared belongings, London is rocked by an explosion, blamed on a plane crashing into the city. However, it soon transpires that the mysterious incident has unleashed a vicious alien, trapped in the now-locked storage building with Charlie and company, whose numbers are quickly being whittled down.
“Storage 24” is much better than expected and something of a pleasant surprise, combining nicely implemented creature feature thrills with some creditable character development work. Roberts’ direction is solid, and though the beats are wholly predictable right through to the end, there’s plenty of action and splatter on offer, with several impressive set pieces along the way, making good use of the claustrophobic set. The film gains several extra points for its use of an entertainingly schlocky man in a suit rather than falling back on the usual shoddy CGI, which genre fans should definitely get a real kick out of and which adds real impact to its violence and money shots. Clarke is very acceptable in the lead role, Charlie becoming more interesting and likeable as things progress, and his scripting with Fairbanks is above average, adding a few touches of emotional depth and substance. This in itself is of no small benefit, and for B-Movie fare the film is generally fun throughout, being the kind of unpretentious genre entertainment that the British industry would do well to churn out more of.
WE ARE THE NIGHT (2010)
“We are the Night” is a German take on the currently still en vogue sexy modern vampire genre, directed by Dennis Gansel, helmer of the powerful neo-Nazi drama “The Wave”. Mercifully far more “True Blood” than “Twilight”, the 2010 film stars Karoline Herfurth (“Perfume”) as Lena, a young misfit pickpocket who ends up being recruited by a trio of female vamps led by the seductive Louise (Nina Hoss, “The Anarchist’s Wife”) and including a DJ (Anna Fischer, “Beloved Berlin Wall”) and 1920s silent film actress from the 1920s (Jennifer Ulrich, “Atomised”). When Lena starts to fall for a well-meaning cop on their trail (Max Riemelt, “Urban Explorers”), the group dynamic changes, and things start to go wrong, as they usually do.
“We are the Night” is a pretty decent addition to the genre, and one of the better recent mixes of modern slickness and traditional vampire lore. Gansel’s direction is dynamic, and the film is both stylish and grounded, pushing a hard sell on the glamour of the hard partying immortal life and at the same time adding a tough visceral edge. While the story itself is nothing new and never really goes anywhere particularly interesting, it’s engaging enough and its clichés are at least competently delivered. Though bloody and gory in places, it’s more of a soap opera drama and thriller than a horror film, the vampire angle not translating much into frights or anything creepy and Gansel being more concerned with action and sexy teases.
As such, “We are the Night”, out now on region 2 DVD through Momentum, is probably one mainly for fans of the modern genre rather than old school fang fans, but largely succeeds in its modest ambitions.
MY EX (2010)
Thai horror goes “Fatal Attraction” with a supernatural twist in “My Ex”, a 2010 outing from director Piyapan Choopetch, starring Shahkrit Yamnarm (who appeared in the ill-judged Pang Bros’ “Bangkok Dangerous” Nicholas Cage vanity piece) as a popular young actor with a taste for loving and leaving the ladies. The press have a field day when he sneakily dumps his two lovers Bow (Atthama Chiwanitchaphan) and Meen (Navadee Mokkhavesa) for a new girl called Ploy (Navadee Mokkhavesa, also in Pen Ek Ratanaruang’s sadly still obscure “Nymph”), though their bliss is threatened by a sinister stalker and the mysterious disappearance of several people close to Ken.
“My Ex” proved popular in Thailand, with a sequel appearing in the same year, also directed by Piyapan Choopetch, though while reasonable enough, there’s little to set it apart from many of the country’s other recent genre films. The story is certainly familiar, with Ken and Ploy being tormented by visions and by a possible ghost who might be either Bow or Meen, the film mainly revolving around the question as to which of the two is dead and what their revenge scheme is. On the plus side, the film is short and well-paced, Choopetch throwing in plenty of spooky action, some neat special effects and the odd gore scene, and while this doesn’t detract from the lack of originality on show and general air of harmlessness, there are a few half-effective set pieces along the way.
The film is out now on region 2 DVD via MVM, and undemanding Asian horror completists with an hour and a half to kill could probably do worse, though are unlikely to feel their pulses quickening.