SALVAGE (2009 Revolver)
In this pop culture landscape, the panic that once swept over us post 9/11 has all been eased by an inexhaustible wealth of diversion. Why worry about the tensions in the Middle East when you can watch The Daily Show in the palm of your hand? Why worry about diminished security all around us when you can “Like” a FB page snickering at shots of boobs and willies taken with the new high tech airport X-ray. Yeah, we all have it pretty good, as long as someone else is taking care of them nasty terrorists “over there.”
But, what if something happens right here… in your neighborhood? That’s the white-knuckle predicament posed in the Brit horror/thriller Salvage. On the morning of Christmas Eve, a suburban Liverpool neighborhood is thrown into turmoil when an unidentified storage container washes up on the shoreline nearby.
But, before all the panic sets in, Beth (Neve McIntosh) is having her own major crisis in her own home – her teen daughter Jodie (Linzey Cocker), who was expected for a visit, has just walked in on her and a strange man having sex. It’s more than an awkward moment, since mum was expecting her daughter’s arrival. She just figured she’d extend her one-night-stand with a morning quickie before she had to fulfill her mommy duties. The ensuing argument spills out onto the block when Jodie storms off to a friend’s house, and mum goes banging on the door, demanding her daughter to come home. And then, suddenly, the skies overhead are roaring with the noises of military ‘copters. The streets are filled with soldiers, slamming by her, barking orders, swarming everywhere. Within seconds a neighbor, a Middle Eastern man, emerges from his home, covered in blood and holding a kitchen knife, muttering something. He’s gunned down, in full view of the people of the neighborhood. The guns then are turned on the neighbors, and commands are shouted for everyone to get inside and stay inside, under threat of death. Merry Christmas!
The fears and paranoia of a post 9/11 world come crashing down on the people of the tiny cul-de-sac, as they try to figure out just what is going on. Beth’s lover, Kiernan (Shaun Dooly) is convinced the Middle Eastern man down the street is a Muslim terrorist after news breaks of the washed up shipping crate. Regardless of any of this, Beth has only one focus – to get to her daughter.
There’s a wicked twist involving the shipping crate that is revealed in the final act, which catapults Beth’s mission into one of maddening life and death.
Salvage has a lot of good things going for it, one of which is a great script by Colin O’Donnell (the story was created by O’Donnell, along with Director Lawrence Gough, and Alan Pattison) that creates chaos with an ever evolving action, moving from domestic drama to a paranoid thriller and finally exploding into bloody horror. But most interesting is the characters of Beth and Kieran, both introduced in full Monty, stripped naked to the world. Exposed. But neither is what one would expect, by outward appearances. Kieran seems the usual barfly sex nut when, after Beth has her row with her daughter, he brilliantly asks “Can you finish me off now?” Little did she know, or cared to ask, that Kieran is a “happily married” man, with young children who adore their pop. It’s not a shock that he doesn’t want to have his tryst known to them, but it’s his willingness to put Beth and her daughter in jeopardy to keep his secret. His actions at the climax, as well, when everything lays upon his shoulders, is the emotional moment of the story.
And then there’s Beth, a woman who is introduced as something of an anti-hero. At the outset, Beth is just the mom of a disgruntled teen, who is so self involved that she brings home strange bedfellows instead of preparing for her daughter’s arrival, and then battles with her neighbors for bragging rights for her. She’s clearly not a well respected woman by her peers, and whose neighbors have no qualms about telling her to sod off. But now, suddenly, when it’s seemingly the end of the world, she will risk her own skin to save her daughter.
Salvage is one of those flicks that seems to annoy some horror fans (check out some of the blogs to hear the whining), because it has the unmitigated gall to develop characters and story before hitting the horror notes. I mean really… The nerve! So, for those who like to get drawn into a story and enjoy some great bloody mayhem, Salvage is a wicked ride, filled with twists and shocks. For those who just want eye popping bloody fun – well, this is a flick for you, too. So, stop whining and enjoy.
Check out Revolver to order.