Talk us through itbr> After his father's funeral, murdered by a mugger, seventeen year old Jimmy goes to live and work with his Uncle Leonard. Jimmy seems to have landed on his feet as Leonard is the doting relative who secures him a job in the storage facility that he runs. Spoiling Leonard's persona of caring uncle is an officious hardness which I guess can be put down to his past in the military.
Jimmy quickly discovers the storage facility is a rabbit warren of concealed secrets and strange characters. With the aid of co-worker Zia, Jimmy starts to investigate one client, Francis, who appears to have something very sinister to hide. Caught out checking into Francis's store room by Leonard, Jimmy confides his suspicions to his uncle. Leonard sacks Zia and bawls out Jimmy for encroaching on their client's privacy rather than bringing the issue directly to him. Together Jimmy and Leonard start to review the security tapes for more evidence that Francis is up to no good.
When it appears Francis is covering up a murder, Leonard springs into action and Jimmy gradually discovers there are more layers of secrets at the storage facility than he had previously thought.
Ready to go bait some rat traps?
Reviewbr> "Everyone's got something weird in this place." - Leonard
Storage is the debut feature for Writer/Director Michael Craft, and shows a young film maker with tremendous promise who manages to get the most out of his small cast and limited locations. Craft is someone to keep an eye on, Storage is one of the best thrillers released in Australia in 2009 and would seem to be the work of a Director with a lot more runs on the board than Craft can claim. Lets break it down and light up those underground corridors.
For it's entire running time Storage is pretty much shot on four locations. The prologue street scene where Jimmy's Dad is brutally knifed, the underground and eternally eerie storage facility, Leonard's house, and the almost nondescript new home Francis occupies. Craft doesn't waste a whole bunch of time moving his characters between the four locations, but in a strong display of Directing cuts perfectly from scene to scene moving the action to each location as required. Generally this is a jarring effect but Craft has things under control and its flowing in a logical, from a plot point of view, fashion as the story advances through it's twisting course.
Director Craft does the simple things right and I for one was grooving to his beat onboard the good ship Storage. In Craft's opening scene Jimmy and his father are in one of those cinemas that show old movies, in this case Charles Bronson in Death Wish 2. It's a huge wink to the audience as revenge, which of course the Death Wish franchise was all about, informs Storage to a huge degree. Jimmy vows at his father's funeral that he will hunt down the mugger who murdered his parent, and revenge will feature throughout the rest of the movie. Except in Craft's hands this isn't the revenge we are expecting. The whole concept of the revenge movie is about to be turned on it's head, and I for one was yelling out "hell yeah".
Craft is turning a couple of other cinema conventions on their head and you really have to wonder just what in hell they are doing out in Hollywood considering genre breaking films are seemingly pouring out of Australia on a weekly basis while Hollywood cookie cuts movie after movie.
In Storage Director Craft sets up quite the effective torture scene, that while brutal in construction doesn't drop anchor in the appallingly bankrupt waters people like Eli Roth like to trawl in. I was reminded of the character of Jack Baur in 24 who on occasion tortures various people in order to extract vital information, or he just does it because Baur might be a psycho or something. Anywise Leonard goes to some effort to extract a confession in time honour Hollywood fashion, those gooks and crims don't deserve common law protection there friends and neighbours. Jimmy points out the eventual confession has been extracted because the confessor just wants the pain to go away rather than coming clean on something he actually did. Craft is skilfully pointing the finger at news agencies, hey looking at you Fox, who are happy enough to take these things on face value. Leonard is certainly getting behind that good old Aunty Murdoch deep dish apple pie Republican parade while Jimmy is more than uncomfortable with how things are going down. The fact that the torture technique used by Leonard is directly pulled from apparently the recommended treatment book of terrorist suspects as condoned by the U.S military in Iraq would indicate Craft isn't concerned one iota in making a political statement.
Craft presents a movie that on the surface is a straight forward romp in the dark undergrowth. As things progress there are unseen twists coming at you and the Director/Writer keeps upping the anti on background depth.
Naturally Director Craft is catering for audience members who simply loved themselves some of Baz's Australia. Jimmy and Zia fall for each other, which to a certain extent is mishandled, but still adds to the fun and festivities as things catapult onto planet fracking strange. I'm saying here mishandled as things between the two went way too swiftly for believability, I wasn't picking up any screen chemistry between Saskia Burmeister and Mathew Scully, and to top it off that sex scene just wasn't working for me. In the wash up it's not going to distract from the movie but just thought I should point it out. Where was I, comparisons to Baz's latest remake of Strictly Ballroom I think, though from memory Nicole Kidman didn't drop her knickers and get into it with Hugh Jackman. Yes both movies feature a love element, and strangely Storage runs closer to believability than the painted back dropped drabbed Australia can achieve. Fans of Baz's folly are going to be shrieking in their seats when they see what Craft has coming at them, the Director is certainly catering for them, but that would be if you defined "catering" as pushing slivers of bamboo under their fingernails.
Where Director Craft shows the power of his vision for Storage is in the underground facility itself that almost acts like an additional character. It's dimly lighted by constantly buzzing neon lights, has more rats than a ship yard at midnight, and the implications are that it's damp and cold. In other hands it would have been used as a haunted film location. Craft skilfully brings to the fore secrets better left undisturbed. The Director is constantly filming at different heights in the scenes down in the bowels of the storage facility and takes advantage of it's almost gothic like qualities. I wouldn't have been surprised if Bela Lugosi had of popped up at one stage for a pint of blood to be honest. Craft makes the claustrophobic nature of the location work for him, and just to ensure the audience aren't going to get too comfortable adds a further underground area off the main scene. When you get down there the movie starts hitting the horror afterburners.
What Craft as a writer achieves is a constant twist, a new dimension, an evolving script that will keep you from second guessing developments. Storage flows logically and exactly to the resolution without missing a single step. As a Director Craft shows you don't need to wash the screen down with claret to get under your audiences' skin, you just need to be strong enough with your visuals and not talk down to them. Craft confronts us with the best bathroom murder scene since Hitchcock decided we should spend a night at the Bates Motel, and like Hitchcock Craft allows his audience to fill in the blanks between the rapid cuts going down. Guess I should say no pun intended here.
Craft does not allow his script to dictate the course of his movie but rather evolves the script to match the film's direction. A subtle difference I know, but you never get the feeling through the course of Storage that Craft has written himself into a corner and is simply using a cinematic device to get around that. Outstanding writing, I leave it to the reader to fill in the boxes for theme and subtext, Craft certainly has them coming at you. Sminds isn't a Criticism site, ergo we'll leave the metaphysics to others better equip to slice and dice that thing.
Robert Mammone (Francis) presents a strong performance in the leading role and nails all aspects of his character. Saskia Burmeister (Zia) was miscast for mine and didn't really fit into the scheme of things, I'm not quite sure why to be honest. Damien Garvey (Leonard) is spellbinding in places and really turns up the heat during the tension filled scenes. And Mathew Scully (Jimmy) doesn't get enough screen time to convince us of anything.
Garry McDonald and Laurie Stone handled the scoring and got it completely right. Some movies into urban techno, some orchestral feelings, and some down right eerie notions at stages. It all adds up to an enhanced movie watching experience.
Summary Executionbr> I had heard good things about Storage but had to wait on the DVD to arrive at my local outlet in order to dive on in. Got to say the wait was well worth it as Director/Writer Craft delivered up the shocks, the rats, the plot twists, and a good dollop of tension to top it off with. I was held pretty spellbound through the course of the film and would definitely add it to my top five for 2009. Simply an excellent debut effort that had me roped and tied from the opening scene.
Storage naturally didn't get a cinema release, though it surely deserved one, and ended up going straight to DVD. The movie seems to have slipped under most dark genre fans radars, with the Distributor going for limited shelf space. It's a crying shame when great movies, made both here and abroad, disappear into the cult environs while movies like the remake of Valentine's Day get wide cinema releases. Surely even teen horror fans want something more than the cookie cutter stuff Boredwood is currently feeding them?
Full recommendation on Storage, the movie is a return to the full on original thriller, though be warned Craft does have a couple of fairly disturbing scenes coming at you. The movie is paced well, has believable characters, and has more twists and turns than the Solid Gold Dancers. Go get yourself some space today, there's a secret or two that Michael Craft wants to share with you.
ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...br> br> Excellent debut feature, hold onto your linen it's quite the journey into darkness.