Uh oh, you’ve got to go and spend Christmas with your annoying mum, and as soon as you see her you have a massive argument, then in the morning there’s loads of army men with guns outside and they’re not letting you out of the house, and there’s blood EVERYWHERE. Pity poor old Jodie – because that’s exactly what happens to her in “Salvage”.
Still, even though she’s set up as the main character from the outset, we actually end up following her annoying mum, who ends up being not that annoying – and quite chuffing hard. She too of course wakes up to the same predicament; that of Kevlar-suited screaming nutcases with guns running around shooting her neighbours, and is justifiably a bit peeved, if not pant-wettingly scared.
But she’s got to do something about it, so she sets off to try and get her daughter back (who stayed in the house across the street overnight), cope with the annoying bloke she’s just shagged, dodge the army nutjobs and figure out just what the scrot is going on. The set up of “Salvage” is great – it hits the ground running by taking scant time getting to know the characters (yet still manages a great deal of fleshing-out), it smacks hard with a bout of unexpected violence and it creates a needed sense of mystery and foreboding amidst the surrounding chaos.
It’s a bit like “Right at Your Door”, except there’s an undercurrent of something even more sinister lurking just around the corner – this is a horror film after all. This fact should be enough to keep you guessing, but not enough to ruin any surprises – a notion which the filmmakers run with by throwing enough red herrings at you to fill a fish market.
It also helps that the players are convincing in their roles – as without a realistic sense of their confusion, how can it be projected onto the audience? Particularly good is Neve McIntosh as the lynchpin of the film and its central force. She portrays every needed emotion with aplomb and makes for a surprisingly apt heroine despite her introduction as a careless, irritating slag. Pathos for her builds as the film progresses and in the end you find yourself rooting for the person you originally wanted to punch – unless of course you wanted to punch the daughter.
Aside from Neve, the supporting cast put in accomplished performances, with Shaun Dooley as a racist, paranoid post-shag clinger-on proving a surprisingly interesting side-role. Then there’s the obligatory army grunts and people running around covered in blood – but none of it is too over the top and despite a low budget – the acting remains top-notch.
It’s not only the professional acting that pushes the film forward though, it’s the direction too. With a handheld and grounded “28 Days Later” feel that really emphasises realism over any flashy camera tricks and allows the film’s unusual premise to seem frighteningly realistic.
Unfortunately it’s almost ruinous to explore the film further, as it’s impossible to do so without TELLING YOU WHY THERE ARE MEN WITH GUNS OUTSIDE THAT WOMAN’S HOUSE. So let’s leave it there.
Oh by the way, “Salvage” is really good.
The DVD comes with a commentary, interviews and a featurette which features a look
in front of by the side of on top of behind the scenes.
Lawrence Gough (director) / Lawrence Gough, Colin O’Donnell, Alan Pattison (screenplay)
CAST: Shahid Ahmed … Mr Sharma
Dean Andrews … Clive
Sufian Ashraf … Mrs. Sharma
Ben Batt … Trooper Jones
Linzey Cocker … Jodie
Shaun Dooley … Kieran
Trevor Hancock … The Savage