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Film Two Stars
Salvage sounded like a great film when I read the blurb, and what's more is that it's British and the trailer looked pretty good too. All in all this was looking like a surprisingly good horror film and free from the current run of comedy horror that Britain is thriving on.

Then I watched it, and while the first half might deliver what you thought it could, the second half has a number of issues which lowered the score for me.

I do wonder sometimes where things went wrong in films and why no one picks up on them in readings or viewings.

Plot.pngThe plot for Salvage is pretty simple, and that usually means something good for a horror film. A container is reported by the news as washed up on a local beach, it's open and empty and police are investigating. Nearby the residents of a quiet cul-de-sac are just getting organised for Xmas, just as violence erupts and a number of people are found dead. Before the residents realise it they are quarantined by the military.

TheFilm.pngSalvage starts off really well, the plot is good and keeps it simple, and the first half of the film does well with the set-ups for the characters and their stories, not explaining too much of the events that are happening to them today and not trying to investigate either, just dealing with what happens as it does.

The performances in this first half are also good with Neve McIntosh, Shaun Dooley, Linzey Cocker and Alan Pattison all being very believable and concentrating on their characters and building the tension and paranoia.

It all goes well, and things are looking good when the military arrive, promising plenty more, but then the clichés come and it starts going down some very worn paths, making choices that we've seen in so many films, and at one point becoming utterly ridiculous.

I can't really tell you the point for fear it might ruin the film for you, although I suspect that's already been done at that point, however suffice to say that at the moment it all seems lost, there's a complete u-turn in the plot for one character and they appear just at the right moment to make it all okay. It's groan worthy, really.

Talking of groan worthy, the monster in the bathroom scene raised a mixture of groans and laughter from the audience, and just helps to destroy the great feelings that the film fostered in the first half. By now the horror and thriller elements have all but gone, or at least they did for me.

There are smaller issues along the way, and one of them is when the main character is being chased and hides amongst the foliage. The creature appears, placing one foot just inches from her head, and then moves on. As soon as we've seen the foot move out of shot she stands up and goes in the other direction, common sense would have the creature a few feet away at most, and she's just stood up and walked away?

However it's not all bad in the second half, near the end there's a good shot at redemption with a clever turnaround back to something the film was aiming towards in the beginning, something a little more intelligent and different. To save the feeling of the film though, it's far too late.

There are a few intelligently funny moments, and not just funny because they are so daft, but intentionally funny, and these are well placed and don't drop down the tone as much as the cliché moments do.

Overall.pngSalvage really does start out with a lot of promise and builds that into a partial reality during the first half. I was sitting believing that this would be something different, something a little more intelligent and thoughtful.

However the second half put paid to that and relied on clichés, and some terrible ones at that. It seems lazy and weak compared to the second half, although it does try and pick it up for the ending.

It's a shame such a story with such potential didn't get to see it totally realised, and it makes for a difficult review. While the first half was good, when the action really gets going it becomes average, and in a few places, downright poor.

Still, it does offer some strong moments and the first half and ending do provide for some good horror-thriller moments with the second half providing some entertainment.

Filmstalker at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009
UK IMDB Film Details



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