Monday, September 5, 2011

DVD Review: SALVAGE (2010)

SALVAGE (2010)
Label: Revolver Entertainment
Region Code: 1 NTSC
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 76 mins
Video: 16x9 Widescreen (1.78:1)

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Director: Lawrence Hough
Cast: Neve McIntosh, Shaun Dooley, Linzey Cocker
Tagline: Fear Cannot Be Contained
In this British horror-thriller set in a quiet cul-de-sac it's Christmas Eve and a young girl named Jodie (Linzey Cocker) is rather unwilling dropped off at her estranged mother's doorstep by her father. It's not quite a happy homecoming scenario and it's made worse when Jodie lets herself into mum's place only to catch mom Beth (Neve McIntosh) amidst a rather steamy  one-night stand with Kieran (Shaun Dooley, EDEN LAKE) a man she met just the night before. A barely dressed Beth chases after her perturbed daughter into the streets where there's a brief confrontation ending in Jodie tossing her mother's house keys at her quite hard and fleeing to a neighbors home. 

Beth is definitely a flawed mother character, a lot of their issues stem from Beth abandoning her marriage and daughter to further her career, and the tension between the two is thick with animosity and regret. Beth returns home and dresses a bit more appropriately and attempts to recover her daughter from the neighbors only to have the door shut in her face. Standing in shock outside the door her attention is drawn towards a helicopter overhead just as a neighbor emerges from his home covered in blood and carrying a large knife. Just then Beth is tackled by a military soldier who commands her at gunpoint to return to her home as the neighbor is gunned down after refusing to comply. As the military infiltrate the cul-de-sac Beth is left inside her home with a man she's only just met, near strangers who must come together to deal with an unknown threat that has descended upon the usually quiet neighborhood.

The nature of the threat is unknown at first but the film plays up fears of terrorism, particularly Kieran who's obsessed with the notion that the gunned down neighbor must have been part of a terrorist cell. Adding to the mystery are reports of a shipping container washed ashore in the nearby river Thames that seems to be the epicenter of the carnage that's overtaken the neighborhood. Trapped in the house together the two argue, panic and give in to varying degrees of paranoia and anxiety, it's not over-the-top hysterics and plays quite realistically into what I would assume one would experience during such an event.

As gunshots ring out in the neighborhood the panic worsens as does Beth's concern for her daughter's well being. She sets out to rescue her only to find the neighbor's house in shambles, blood is everywhere but there are no signs of her daughter. Discovering an injured soldier outside the house they bring him inside and are able to piece together what's the military is there to contain and it's far worse than they could have imagined. At the 53 minute mark the tense paranoiac thriller turns into a mutated creature horror fest and while the pace picks up it perhaps loses a bit of it's punch but is still quite a fine film.

SALVAGE is a great case of economical low-budget horror filmmaking, it's tense, atmospheric and nail-bitingly good. The acting is fantastic from start to finish, particularly Dooley and McIntosh, and wisely the creatures are kept mostly in shadow and not over exposed. The film's a nice combination of THE CRAZIES violent infected and terrorist paranoia thriller RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR.

DVD:The disc from Revolver Entertainment presents the film in 16x9 enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen and looks very good with nice black levels and a generally subdued color tone. The DVD boasts an impressively immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track that accents the tension quite well, very good sound design and a tense score. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear, no subtitles are included.

Special features include a commentary track with Director Lawrence Gough plus writer Colin O’Donell, associate producer Alan Pattison and star Shaun Dooley who discuss the genesis of the film from a short subject film to it's development as a feature length production. It's a decent listen if a bit dry at times. There's also nearly 45 minutes of cast and crew interviews and a behind-the-scenes making of featurette. Not too shabby, but don't talk about the short film and not feature it on the DVD, c'mon guys. It had better be on YouTube or the film's website, seriously.

Special Features:
- Behind the Scenes Making Of (10:08) 16:9
- Cast and Crew Interviews (44:34) 16:9
- Commentary from Director Lawrence Gough, writer Colin O’Donell, associate producer Alan Pattison and star Shaun Dooley

Verdict: Having just watched British film TONY (2009) and then straight away watching this it's hard not to reflect upon the great many number of kick ass British horror films in recent years, it's very promising indeed. I'm a bit pist that I somehow managed to miss this one which was actually released last summer on DVD, better late to the party than never right?  Not a hugely original film but very well executed, tense and bloody, well recommended.