Self-Storage starts with a glaring flaw pertaining to its protagonist, Conrad (Garrett Wagner). In the very beginning of the film, he runs into Olivia (Alex Luna), his ex-girlfriend, at a store. It has been roughly one year since they broke up and the two exchange awkward small talk. Then Conrad asks Olivia what happened to make them break up, and she informs him in no uncertain terms that he knows exactly what he did.
Ever since the breakup, Conrad has stopped going out and just mopes in his room all day. This encounter sends him into a tailspin, of which his friends have had enough. After some nudging from Freddy (Connor McCafferty), Conrad is convinced to go to the movies tonight. The friend also gets Conrad to agree to get rid of the possessions of Olivia’s he is still keeping. As such, he heads to a self-storage unit and while there becomes hunted by a maniac intent on killing him. Is he a random person in the wrong place at the wrong time? Is he being targeted by someone specific? By Olivia herself?
The problem is that for a majority of Self-Storage, Conrad comes across as a whiny, obnoxious brat who does not care about anyone but himself. Thus, the viewer is not invested in him getting back together with Olivia, nor do they care if the slasher kills him. Mind you, none of this is the fault of the actor but lies entirely at the hands of writer-director Pat Collier. Eventually, the truth behind Conrad and Olivia’s end is revealed, and all the emo moping makes sense, but it is too little too late.
“…he heads to a self-storage unit and while there becomes hunted by a maniac intent on killing him.”
Plus, the gravity and intensity of the revealed actions do not have the intended weight behind them. This lack of investment springs from the weak characterizations. The audience is simply not given enough time with Conrad and Olivia as a couple first, and with their friends before and after the break-up, for them to reasonably guess the person behind the mayhem’s motives. Freddy is a loser who is always stoned. Plus, there is Olivia’s friend Kaley, and also the characters of Billy, Kennedy, and Oswald, all of whom have a few lines at best. So if any one of them is the slasher, their motivations are barely explored.
Of course, the killer could just as easily be a crazy random person that has not been previously introduced. If that is the case, then all the build-up over the deterioration of the relationship holds even less weight. Either way, it is not enough, so the ultimate reason why everything is happening is a huge letdown.
All of this is a crying shame, as there is some talent on display throughout, especially as far as the cast is concerned. The thing is, despite how difficult it is to relate or empathize with Conrad for about half the film, he never becomes outright off-putting. That is due to Garrett Wagner’s innate charm, and I am confident that with a better script, he’d be stellar.
“…motivations are barely explored.”
It also helps that he and Alex Luna, as Olivia, share excellent chemistry, so their relationship is easy to buy into. As Conrad’s friends Billy Gani and Connor McCafferty are good, though underutilized in that arena. Even the person who the slasher is menacing. He/ she come across as a deranged and viable threat. It is just too bad they have such inadequate motivations, and most of their dialogue is expository nonsense.
As much as I ragged on Self-Storage, I don’t hate. The cast is talented, and the pacing between a dramatic scene (usually a flashback of some sort) and a more horror based one is solid. Plus, the black-and-white cinematography, especially considering the tight corridors that make up the bulk of the film, is fantastic and atmospheric. It’s just too bad that the writing is not up to the same standard as the rest of the film.
Self-Storage (2019) Directed by Pat Collier. Written by Pat Collier. Starring Garrett Wagner, Alex Luna, Connor McCafferty, Pat Collier, Tim Brennan, Catherine Collier, Billy Gani.
5 out of 10 Storage Units