Director – Lawrence Gough
Cast – Linzey Cocker, Shaun Dooley, Neve McIntosh
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I learned of when I was looking up horror films for the year of 2010(although the film first debuted in 2009 and will be regarded as a 2009 film), and after reading the plot and a few positive reviews I went ahead and gave this low-budget sleeper a watch. Films with high levels of paranoia and social breakdown have always appealed to me, and while the film definitely comes with many flaws, Salvage’s plot opens the doors for such elements and delivers them.
When Beth is dropped off at her mother’s home in an attempt by both of her now-divorced parents to reunite the family, she is reluctant to see the woman who is to blame for the family falling apart. Her mother’s antics immediately drive her back to the hatred she has always had for her mother, but things will only get worse for Beth and her mother, Jodie. A mysterious container washed on shore earlier that day, and after it was messed with by a group of misfit kids all hell is broken loose. The military has quartered off the area, and this once quiet and sleepy cul-de-sac has fallen into fear, paranoia, and bloodthirsty violence at the hands of both the military and the very entity they are trying to keep hidden from the public.
The storyline for Salvage is fairly simple, and that goes well with the film’s low-budget. Most of the film takes place within the confines of a few homes within the cul-de-sac, so the film does not really “move” very much. That is usually never a bad thing as long as the execution is good, but sadly I felt that the film went nowhere at times thanks to bad writing execution. We get the initial conflict between Beth and Jodie, then Jodie trying to find Beth for the bulk of the film, and then the final act which really did not answer any questions or provide any relief to the viewer. The first two acts were OK, but after that it seems the film just stayed stagnant for the final act instead of actually concluding the story. Thankfully, the film comes in at a very low 79 minute runtime, which when you consider the 5 minutes of credits only leaves us with 74 minutes of story. I usually prefer for films to not be THAT short, but given the film’s lack of writing execution I am glad that the film did not carry on longer than it needed to.
Director Lawrence Gough did an OK job for his first full-length directing effort, and that is the biggest reason behind this film getting a 6-rating when what I’ve written so far sounds like it should receive a lower rating. The conflict and tension are good enough to sell the film to me, and his usage of live-action gore and effects was a nice touch as well. I also enjoyed the sets he used, which consisted of claustrophobic homes that carried many dark and gloomy corners which aided in setting the hopeless atmosphere the film carried. His directing effort did come with flaws of its own though, which included unlikable performances from all of our protagonists. In a film like this you are normally expected to root for the protagonist to endure and survive the ordeal, but I honestly did not give two you-know-what(s) about the film’s lead characters, and that is a flaw of both writing and direction…but in this case I’m giving more blame to the direction, although most of the blame for the film’s overall flaws go to Gough’s writing.
Overall, this is a borderline-positive watch that delivers on some pretty good tension and paranoia for those of you who enjoy social breakdown in horror, but the film never fully endorses its own potential and heads nowhere in the end. This was not a waste of my time, but is also not a film I would fully recommend unless you have nothing else to do.