Tense moments and psychological warfare decorate Salvage’s 79 minutes, even if it is a little rough around its indie edges. The UK film explores fear and paranoia, as military men suddenly quarantine the residents of a suburban cul-de-sac. A divorced mother struggles to find her estranged teenage daughter when the violence erupts, providing a strong emotional thread throughout the story, which could have been rendered in the usual survival horror style. The familial drama, especially the maternal distress, was a refreshing backdrop against a somewhat typical plot.
Focused on the characters first and foremost, Salvage makes us care about the people on the screen. When it matters the most, the actors are terrific. However, the performances were inconsistent throughout the film. It seemed like the cast strained to act natural during the more casual moments. One cannot be too harsh though since this was such a dialogue-heavy/character-focused film, a lot of scrutinizing attention was placed on performance.
Much like the acting, the violence could also be inconsistent. There are some great gore gags to please any horror fan, but then there are also a couple clumsy deaths here and there. The action is mostly subdued, as the majority of the film stresses the tension of the threat of violence as opposed to actual brutality. I appreciated a lot of this anticipation, as the quarantined characters play off of their own fears without knowing the truth about the dangers outside of their homes. The filmmakers also did a great job of not playing up the paranoia to an unrealistic degree, where characters are literally back-stabbing each other as a result of unsubstantiated suspicions.
I watched Salvage without reading too much about it first; I always prefer to go into a film blind. This really helped with Salvage, as I felt just as clueless as the characters in the film. As the events unraveled, I pieced things together only slightly ahead of the characters, which always makes the viewing experience more fun. For fans of indie horror or paranoia-themed fare, I highly recommend a viewing of Salvage, which comes out on DVD (in the US) this week.