Sometimes even a movie with very little to recommend for it still has — well, something to recommend for it. Such is the case with this year’s direct-to-video, shot-on-HD indie horror effort Self Storage, a largely pathetic, unmemorable, boringly amoral (more on that before we’re through) piece of — uhhmm, work —- written and directed by, and starring, the supremely untalented Tom DeNucci.
Shot in Rhode Island, this is one of those flicks that’s pretty hard to see having much of an audience beyond the friends and immediate family of anyone involved in its production, being that every single character in it’s a complete douchebag, the blood n’ guts are both fairly tame and poorly realized, and its somewhat inventive premise is buried under layer upon layer of incompetent execution.
First, the particulars of the plot : go-nowhere pothead Jake (the aforementioned DeNucci) works as a security guard at a mini-storage facility. His friends, a half-assed assemblage of walking caricatures (the slut, the hot chick, the good girl, the horn-dog guy who gets a lot of pussy, the two other horn dog guys who get no pussy and are hopeless porn addicts) want to party at his workplace one night and figure it should be no sweat because Jake actually lives on the premises, as well. He says no at first, then says yes when he learns that his asshole boss (Eric Roberts) and flunky right-hand man (Micheal Berryman, whose name might not ring a bell to anyone but die-hard horror fans, but who even most casual viewers will recognize instantly thanks to The Hills Have Eyes, The Devil’s Rejects, and too many other flicks to mention — in short, he’s the tall, bald, weird-lookin’ dude) have cut some kind of shady deal with a local black marketeer (Jonathan Silverman — -speaking of supremely untalented), and intend to shut the place down the next day when they’re good and rich and fire their deadbeat part-timer’s ass in a heartbeat.
So — the party’s on, but everyone but Jake and his sweetheart get killed because the “big deal” that’s going down is a massive sale of kidnapped coeds for the purportedly thriving underground body parts and organs trade. Jake accidentally melts the folks who have already been kidnapped in an acid shower — long story — and finds that he and his dickhead friends have been tapped as replacements.
Yeah, I know — it sounds kinda creepy/interesting yet hopelessly stupid at the same time. Rest assured, dear reader, that the “hopelessly stupid” part of the equation wins the day in a hurry and you’ll be hoping against hope for everyone — even (and maybe especially) our purported “hero ” — to get killed both gruesomely and quickly. Unfortunately, things take a long time to get going, and aren’t very interesting once they do. DeNucci’s film is that rarest of things, then — a story about people you’re aching to see get murdered that bores you so fucking much that you don’t even end up caring how, when, or even if they die — you want ’em too, sure, but actively giving a damn is just too much effort.
So what about that whole “dully amoral” thing, then? Well, Jake ends up pocketing the take for his dead pals’ organs in the end, and rides off into the sunset with his ladyfriend, and I guess the two live happily ever after on the gruesome loot they’ve procured on the deceased bodies of their friends. Could be shocking, I suppose, if handled correctly, but it’s such a garbled mess that you honestly wonder if DeNucci even considered the ethical implications of his tasteless finale or if he just wrapped things up quickly because he didn’t know what the hell else to do at that point. The end result? It all falls pretty flat — just like the preceding 90-or-so minutes.
Still, as I mentioned at the outset, Self Storage has at least one thing going for it — Eric Roberts, who’s clearly in the “anything for a buck” phase of his career at this point. I don’t know about you, but if my script called for a psychotic cheeseball Viet Nam vet who owns a mini-storage business and trades in impromptu homemade (and fatal) surgery on the side, he’d be the first guy I’d call. And he certainly doesn’t disappoint here, hamming it up with the kind of overstated, fourth-wall-busting relish that makes his turn as the villainous Master in 1996’s Doctor Who TV movie look subtle by comparison. He’s a lot of fun to watch, and is clearly pushing the envelope of what he can get away with simply because he knows his chickenshit kid director doesn’t have the balls to step in and tell him to at least try to play it straight. I have a weird kind of respect for anyone willing to piss in his boss’s face so brazenly, and so I tip my hat to Mr. Roberts for clearly communicating with his outrageous performance exactly what he thinks of this steaming pile of dogshit he’s working on. Thanks for the money, ya snot-nosed little punk, now shut up, get the fuck out of my way, and let me do what I do best.
Beyond that, though, this is a movie with less than nothing going for it. Don’t waste your time and/or money picking it up on Blu-Ray or DVD, to be sure — and if you absolutely must watch it in spite of my dire warnings, then catch it on Netflix’s instant streaming queue, like I did. But honestly — you’re just better off leaving the whole thing alone and just trusting me when I say that Roberts is a blast to watch, but Self Storage is in no way worth sitting through just to see him ooze sleaze and disrespect for his (temporary) employers unless you’re really bored, stoned, or both.