A man stands in a dark, empty storage unit behind a cardboard box.

Slamdance Film Review: Restorage


Slamdance Film Review: Restorage
Director: E’an Verdugo
Magic Production Group

At last, Earth has made its yearly rotation. As millions of people watch that glistening disco ball drop in a crowded Times Square, signaling in the New Year, a sparkling promise of new beginnings rolls in. Let bygones be bygones for it’s a “new year, new you,” but what if your promise of starting over isn’t working out? What if your past mistakes and heartbreaks can be fully restored?

The new, independent sci-fi series Restorage, premiering at the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival, follows Chase (Connor Boyd) and his dysfunctional family in the aftermath of his father’s passing. Down on his luck and ridiculed by his sister (Olivia Clari Nice, Walker) and snobby businessman brother (Jacob Daniels, I Bet You’re Wondering How I Got Here), Chase inherits a seemingly ordinary storage unit. However, things are not quite as they appear—the storage unit takes broken items and restores them to their prior state. Equipped with his newfound ability and grief-stricken desperation, Chase sets out to make things right once again … if it doesn’t tear the family apart even more.

After my first watch, I didn’t think the overall premise of Restorage could hold enough water. It seemed perfect for a one-off episode of The Twilight Zone (with a pinch of The Indian in the Cupboard magic) that could easily be summed up in its thirty-minute runtime. However, the show easily kept my attention. The fractured chemistry between the three siblings reflects a heavy dose of reality with Daniels’ vulture personality and Clari Nice as the voice of reason for Boyd’s abandoned hope. There’s a rising tension that only gets thicker every time these three share the screen, as if you’re watching your divorced parents fight all over again. It’s uncomfortable and straining, yet you can’t quite look away because you have to know what happens next.

Of course, pilot episodes for any new television series are engineered to hit all the essential points (character development, tone, conflict, etc.) in order to make it interesting enough to rally up an audience and pray to whatever modern Hollywood God will deliver them a big break. With not much to work with, I want more, especially after that huge, ambiguous cliff-hanger of an ending. Restorage is an imaginative dramedy, with that overarching “how hard it is to be family” motif that was huge with early 2000s indie flicks like Little Miss Sunshine. Sure, it’s a bare bones production at the time being, and which direction this show will steer is still up in the air. Even so, I could see this show gaining enough of a fanbase to keep its wheels greased up. –Alton Barnhart 

Read more of SLUG‘s comprehensive coverage of the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival.