Dir. Lawrence Gough
Written by: Colin O’Donnel
Starring Neve McIntosh, Dean Andrews, Shaun Dooley
SALVAGE is a respectably assembled indie British hodge-podge of siege movie, monster movie, and THE CRAZIES. It takes place entirely inside a small cul-du-sac which is thrown into chaos when heavily armed government troops storm the place in search of a mysterious missing... something. Trapped in this madness are divorced housewife Beth, her recent hook up, and her daughter who’s a little pissed at her because she walked in on said hook-up. Daughter has stormed out, and Beth is desperate to find her and make sure she’s OK amidst the shooting and monstering.
Good acting is gonna be crucial to this kind of affair, where the key to the horror is our limited perspective as to what the fuck is going on. The leads generally deliver, particularly Neve McIntosh as Beth, the mom, who puts on a pretty good intense face and heroically embraces a few precious moments of mega-acting. But the problem is the characters are all pretty thinly written. Not poorly written, it’s just that there’s not enough to them to really quite carry the majority of the movie the way it sort of needs to. For example, the drunken hook-up (she says she picked him up at a bar, but it seems to be like 3 in the afternoon and no one’s drunk, so I don’t know) is a racist who thinks terrorists are responsible, but he turns out to be an OK guy in the end. It just feels like it wouldn’t have been character growth if he didn’t come off as a jerk at the start, which makes the whole thing feel a little forced and insubstantial. Mom gets a sort of better redemption angle but really just spends most of her time freaking out, so the drama of the situation ends up getting a little repetitive, even though it’s quite well-directed (there’s at least one long show-offy take as she explores through most of a mysteriously bloodied-up house).
Although there’s nothing technically the matter with the movie, there’s also nothing much there to really recommend it. It’s competently put together, but the scale is small, the stakes are just over whether or not Beth will find her daughter (who’s sort of a bitch anyway), the conflict with the soldiers is fairly routine, and the monster is pretty unmemorable. Actually, he looks like he was originally designed to be some kind of freaky human spider, which is a pretty cool idea, but the end result is just kind of skinny and furry and you never get a clear enough sense of it’s look, motives, or abilities for it to have much impact. So even though the film is pretty competent at most things it tries, it never really adds up to much. Sort of a shame to see so much competence put to waste on only an average movie, but I guess it’s a good reminder that technical proficiency will only take you so far. After that, you’ve gotta have imagination.
|Beth has a conversation with another mother about her daughter. Not exactly storming the White House, but it counts.|