Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Salvage (2009) - Filmreview

Neve McIntosh faces a new horror in Brit flick Salvage. "Fear cannot be contained"
It would be easy to believe that Salvage was a final episode of popular British soap opera Brookside, set in Liverpool. Not only do the interior sets look untouched like something out of the Mary Celeste but the exterior location, too, was used in filming this low budget horror movie.

Honestly, Brookside itself became so gritty and far fetched by the end of its 21-year run that you could almost imagine anything was possible plot-wise, including a series of horrifying killings at the hands of a mutant. Big spoiler aside, Salvage does have some things going for it besides the famous setting. Starring Neve McIntosh (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doctor Who) as Beth and Shaun Dooley as Kieran, we arrive at the cul-de-sac as a newspaper boy overhears an argument between an Indian couple. The man, Mr Sharma, sees the boy peering through their window and chases him. The boy flees into the wood behind the close, where he is murdered by an unknown figure. We are then introduced to teenager Jodie (Linzey Cocker) who is expected to spend Christmas with her estranged mother Beth (McIntosh). Brought to the Close by her father, Jodie takes a Key from a flower pot and lets herself in. Who needs a Grinch when you have a terrible mother? The young girl, disgusted to find Beth having sex with a stranger upstairs, leaves the house to seek comfort with a friend across the way. Beth follows but is refused entry by the friend's own mother (played by Coronation Street actress Debbie Rush).

And then all hell breaks loose...

We are now firmly in Phil Redmond (Brookside creator) territory for those who remember the 20th Anniversary of Brookside and its over-the-top siege storylines featuring Terry 'Psycho' Gibson and his antics.

Except... drug dealers are replaced by an unseen killer who terrorises residents and eliminates special force team members sent in to contain the situation. The majority of the film now focuses on Beth and her one-night stand Kieran as they attempt to make sense of sudden developments. Residents are ordered by soldiers to stay in their homes. Beth, however, is more concerned for her daughter, who remains at the friend's house. If there is one positive about Salvage then it has to be Neve McIntosh's strong performance, whose character refuses to give in and wait it all out - instead she remains at the center of this tense thriller directed by Lawrence Gough.

Kieren is convinced they are victims of an al-Qaeda terrorist threat, a suspicion seemingly confirmed by an injured special ops soldier who they bring into the safety of Beth's home. Beth, though, discovers the truth after overhearing the soldier, Akede (Kevin Harvey), on his radio to a colleague. This is where the movie has the potential to deliver further but ultimately fails. The true "threat" is boasted to be the perfect killer, an "uncontrollable" monster. Could this explain why Akede's unit is failing? So, perhaps we're in Alien or Predator territory? No, not really. As the plot reaches its conclusion, so does the thrill. Beth is reunited with her daughter but is attacked by the mutant; the victim of a military experiment, it turns out. Fleeing in terror, daughter Jodie reaches the front garden of the house when the monster goes in for the kill, having followed...

Salvage marked Lawrence Gough's film début in the director's chair, he has since gone on to work on shows like Cold Blood, Hollyoaks, and Atlantis. The feature was also one of three projects chosen for the Digital Departures filmmaking initiative launched in 2007 to celebrate Liverpool's Capital of Culture status in 2008; the other two being documentary Of Time and the City (writer/director: Terence Davies) and film Kicks (director: Lindy Heymann - written by Leigh Campbell - original title: Starstruck). All three projects each secured a £250,000 budget.

McIntosh won two awards for her performance, at the International Fantasy Film Award and Fantastic Fest. It is easy to see why she accepted the part, "I was attracted to the script because Beth is the main protagonist – I’m covered in bruises from all the chasing and clambering. My last job was a film with Joe Fiennes about a Jewish family hiding from the Holocaust, so it’s very different" - Liverpool Echo.

On a personal note, I do wish there had been more screen time between Beth and Jodie, and that more of their relationship had been established. I'm sure McIntosh and Cocker would have given the piece just that extra bit of emotion in an otherwise emotionally charged drama. Thoroughly enjoyable, for fans of horror or Brookside.

Purchase Salvage via amazon.co.uk.

Article author: Alwyn Ash