Judge Steve Power petitioned to open a salvage yard for old gaming systems, but his neighborhood went with a toxic waste dump instead.
Fear cannot be contained.
All Beth wants is a happy Christmas with her daughter Jodi. Unfortunately, a mysterious shipping container has washed up on a nearby beach, the army has decided to cordon off her sleepy little town, and some kind of crazy person is ripping through the community leaving blood and chaos in his wake. What's a mother to do?
I'm being deliberately vague with the synopsis for Salvage. When our film opens, we meet Jodi (Linzey Cocker, Is Anybody There?) your typical British teen, whom, it would seem, will be our guide through the film. The first curve ball (and the only one I'm going to spoil) hits at the 15 minute mark, when Jodi walks into a neighbour's house and her mom, Beth (Neve McIntosh, Doctor Who), becomes our hero protagonist, and what a protagonist she is.
Scottish actress Neve McIntosh, whose only other appearance I'm familiar with was as a make-up covered alien in the most recent Doctor Who series, is a great lead. Her portrayal of Beth provides just the right mix of manic and madness; she's like a suburban Ellen Ripley. She's the type of leading lady you might expect to be driving the kids to soccer practice between blowing xenomorphs out of airlocks. The rest of the cast is actually pretty good for this type of film as well, but Neve is the standout. I just might have a crush on her.
The screenplay is intelligent, with some believable dialogue. Beth shares many scenes with token survivor Kieran (Shaun Dooley, Eden Lake) and both actors do a bang up job with the material. One scene where both explain their situations to each other is actually rather emotional, with their heart to heart chat never feeling anything but real.
Also fantastic is the film's use of gore. Salvage is a gruesome flick, but it doesn't pepper the viewer with blood and snot. The gore is very overt, very real, and all the more disturbing. The make up effects are extremely well implemented and convincing, and when someone dies, it's pretty messy.
The only issue that keeps Salvage in the realm of "good" and not "classic" is its length. The film takes some time setting things up, and at 75 minutes, there's not much time to be wasted. The slow burn definitely adds to the tension, and the twists that the plot takes keeps things interesting, but the movie never really accelerates to take-off speed like you might expect. Then there's the fact that it thumbs its nose at the audience on more than one occasion. Sure, it knows your rules, but it doesn't entirely play by them. In classic neo-horror fashion, the ending also leaves one wanting. Director Lawrence Gough, making his first feature, is one mean, mean bastard.
The screener provided by Revolver seems to be a pretty solid indication of what to expect from the retail product. Salvage was filmed on JVC HD digital cameras, and looks about how one might expect. The picture is soft, with some digital noise and blurring, and darker scenes do get a little grainy. There is some motion blurring, and artifacts do pop up from time to time. The look is well suited to the feature, it's got that 28 Days Later grit that's been the modius oprandi for these Brit-horrors ever since. That said, it's an ugly looking disc, though the fault is likely with the source. The 5.1 audio comes across a little flat, without much of a surround presence. Meanwhile the English stereo feels a little more lively, if front-loaded.
There's a solid selection of extras, including a 10-minute behind the scenes featurette, which is essentially raw hand-held home video shot during the production, and 45 minutes worth of interviews with the cast and crew. The interviews are about what you would expect from a low budget production of this nature, but some of them make for a pretty interesting watch.
Not bad, not bad at all.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Revolver Entertainment
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