October 25, 2013

Horror-A-Day: Salvage (2009)

This morning didn't have a frost like the past few days have had, but there was still a crisp coldness that dug into my scalp when I stepped outside. It was the sort of chill that kinda gathers at the back of your neck and drives to the bone. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but it could certainly be liked to the feeling when a good horror movie injects a decent creep factor. Not all horror movies set out to creep, or get under the skin, some just want to toss blood at you, and others want you to believe it could happen.

I was scanning Netflix for a short film to squeeze in before sleeping, I found a promising choice in the form of 2009 British export Salvage, from director Lawrence Gough. It is a compact 75 minutes that dispenses with the padding and fluff, leaving behind all that matters. It is a tense, well crafted horror flick that does not always feel like a horror flick. It is the type of movie that, if you are unaware of its true nature, can lull you into a false sense of security before dropping the hammer. In other words, it does it's job.

As it begins, we meet Jodie (Linzey Cocker) as she is being driven by her father to her estranged mother's house for a visit she isn't exactly looking forward too. They have the radio on playing some awful music when they come across a news report of a shipping container washing up on a nearby shore. The news is innocuous enough, but you know how things like that go.

Jodie is dropped at her mother's, Beth (Neve McIntosh). She goes inside and finds mom in bed with a one night, err, afternoon stand. This leads to a big thing and Jodie takes off for shelter at a neighbor's house. Beth chases and tries to get her to come out. It is pretty clear at this point that Beth is not the best of mothers and does not really know how to be a mom.

It is around this point hat the movie has lulled you into a false sense of security. Your calm is about to be shattered. Black clad military show up in force, weapons up and ready to shoot. They are yelling at people and forcing them into their homes where they are told to lock up and stay put.

Salvage is pretty interesting here, as there is a very realistic feel and tone to the proceedings. There is no soundtrack, no music, no sense of irony, nor any winking at the camera. Everything is played straight. You have a mother realizing something is wrong and the maternal instinct makes is way to the surface, in genuine fashion. Her impromptu lover immediately thinks it is terrorist, saying it must be the people in the house up the street as they are Muslim.

It is interesting o see how attitudes change, how people turn on each other, and how quickly people can reveal their dark side. It is slightly reminiscent of movies like Right at Your Door and Trigger Effect, not to mention that Twilight Zone episode, the name escapes me but it is the one where the power goes out and the neighbors begin bickering with each other.

Well, I don't really want to tell you too much, as it really isn't a long movie. Suffice to say, the turn comes, people get hurt, people try to get in, people try to get out, and the military has something to say about why they are there and some more information about that shipping container.

Salvage is a tight little horror/thriller that delivers. I had no expectations for this when I started, but it quickly won me over with its good acting and writing, and generally effective atmosphere. This is one I would have no trouble recommending.


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