The holidays are always so much fun. Mistletoe, guys in Santa suits, the repetition of Christmas music, and time together with family.
“Salvage” is the story of a small British neighborhood right around the holidays. Clive (Andrews) is bringing his daughter, Jodie (Cocker) to see his estranged wife (and Jodie’s mum,) Beth. Jodie, loaded down with a weekend’s worth of clothes and a two-ton bag of teen angst, has no desire to visit, but it is Christmas, and it is important to her father. However, when she enters her mum’s home, she’s met with a bit of a surprise as she walks in on her mother riding a stranger like a rodeo horse.
Jodie flees to a neighbor’s house, and her mum, Beth (McIntosh) tries to go after her, when her reconciliation attempts are thwarted by soldiers brandishing automatic weapons. Beth is shuffled back into her own home. Cell phone coverage is non-existent. The news is no help, and the mysterious militia men offer nothing more than demands. Beth and her lover, Kieran, seek information from the newscasters’ accounts of potential terrorism, and wild aspirations of self-defense.
The threat soon strikes home, quite literally, in the form of a bloody sledgehammer. Beth and Kieran square off against a blood-soaked neighbor, and they each begin to dig in, hoping to salvage all that is important in their own lives. Beth soon finds herself trapped between the constant threat swarming outside, and the danger growing inside the “safe”, cozy homes of British suburbia. It isn’t long before she and Kieran are given an explanation, like it or not, from one of the soldiers. Is everything under control? Is Jodie safe? Will the unfortunate couple escape to see their kids again?
The holidays aren’t always fun. Bloodthirsty lunatics, an army of soldiers, the endless sounds of helicopters and gunfire, and never knowing what might become of your family.
“Salvage” is a tense film built on a well-established premise and scattered with a number of “what-if’s.” At 79 minutes, the film is short, though it is paced well. A few extra jumps would be welcome if they furthered the plot and added to the confusion. A slight glimpse here or there of some additional gore would have given the FX team a shot to strut its stuff early on. The film could benefit from a few extra minutes behind the lens of the news team, or in the dark walls of Jodie’s refuge, building her character beyond the initial confrontation.
McIntosh (“Bodies”) is very good in a somewhat limited role. She expresses emotion very well, and tops the early challenge of transitioning from selfish bitch to courageous mother. Andrews (“Ashes to Ashes”) is delightful in his brief appearance. Cocker (“Drop Dead Gorgeous”) has a promising career, given all she’s accomplished already, and all she’s got lined up.
Director Gough makes the most of threats just off-screen, without the ridiculous “if it’s off-screen, the actor’s can’t see it either” rule that dominates the last decade of horror cinema. Gough uses plenty of tiers, including brushed glass, shadows, and even mail delivery slots as methods to keep viewers guessing. He uses off-screen tactics well to insinuate the worst possibilities. “Salvage” may represent his debut into the genre, but his experience shines well in this production.
The “military drops in and overruns an entire community, scaring the hell out of them” is a theme that can work really well, as in George Romero’s “The Crazies” and Jack Kilborn’s debut novel, “Afraid.”
DVD Extras include interviews with Director Gough, the cast and crew. The audio options include a track with filmmakers Gough, Shawn Dooley Alan Pattison and Colin O’ Donnell. There is also a behind-the-scenes feature. Technical specs on the audio and video format features will be released with the final DVD, coming on July 6th.
“Salvage” was a selection of several festivals, including the Edinburgh, Frightfest, Trieste, FantasticFest and Fantasporte festivals. McIntosh is also a two-time award winner at the International Fantasy Film Festival.
The film’s official site is: http://www.salvagethefilm.com.
For more on Revolver Entertainment, including projects like “Robsessed” and “Star Wreck”, check out the publishing company’s site, at http://www.revolvergroup.com/us/.