Hhmmm; I’m still not exactly sure what to think of this one. Is SALVAGE a tight, government-experiment-gone-wrong thriller with horror elements? Or is it simply an underfunded indie flick lacking an explanation and a good looking creature. I think the answer lies somewhere in between.
Teenager Jodie (Linzey Cocker) is on her way home to spend more time with her estranged mom Beth (Neve McIntosh), a workaholic/alcoholic libido on legs. Jodie gets to her mom’s house only to find dear old mom riding some guy like she was in a rodeo. Jodie gets pissed off and storms out to go stay with one of her friends. As Beth is getting ready to go out and find her a group of special forces-ish military guys descend on the town waving around machine guns and barking orders to all the locals to stay in their houses. Cut off from her daughter and not knowing what the hell is happening, Beth is determined to find Jodie and protect her. And talk about your awkward one-night stands; first Beth and her penis du jour get interrupted in mid-thrust by her daughter Jodie, and now the town is being quarantined and they are stuck in the house together. Well at least they have plenty of time to learn each others names!!
SALVAGE has a lot of things going for it: The acting is pretty good, it has a strong opening scene where a young paperboy is killed, and co-writer/director Lawrence Gough gets a pretty good claustrophobic feel going on. But somehow even at only a 76 minute run time SALVAGE still feels as though is drags at times. But worst of all is the “explanation”. I put that in quotes because we are offered an explanation as to what is going on, but its a pretty shitty and unsatisfying one. Apparently some container washed up on shore near the town that unleashed something. Is it a creature or a virus? Is it contagious? How many other people are infected? Why is the military so afraid of it? Lots of unanswered questions that I have to say annoyed the shit out of me. It would have been nice to get some solid answers.
SALVAGE starts off good enough and even has some solid scenes in the middle. I liked the scenes of Beth sneaking around the town going from house to house trying to find her daughter. Gough showed he has some directing chops and produced some nice tense scenes. But then he went one step too far; in the last 5-10 minutes he shows us the creature (or was it a mutated towns’ person?). The creature was one of the worst looking creatures I’ve seen in a long time. I was expecting the special make-up f/x in the credits to read, “Special effects by 10 year old Billie.”
At the end of the day this movie has moments that are well filmed and we get a few tense moments, but overall the film will leave you feeling cheated and feeling like you just watched an episode of THE X-FILES, and not one of the good episodes. I have a feeling that a small budget is to blame, but we’ve all seen from other films I reviewed here at anythinghorror.com that having a low budget is no excuse for making a shabby film. I wouldn’t go out of your way to track this one down, but if you can stream it from Netflix I’m sure there are parts you’ll find interesting.
Director: Lawrence Gough (and co-writer)
Plot: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer