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Today Only: "Mad Max Anthology (4 Film Collection) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)" for $25.99
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On Christmas Eve, the residents of a quiet British cul-de-sac are suddenly plunged into a world of violence, terror, and paranoia when a group of heavily armed military personnel storm their road and order them to retreat inside their homes at gunpoint. Horror.
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Starting out as kind of a low budget "28 Days Later" mixed with "The Crazies," the movie sets up a compelling scenario in which a bland neighborhood is suddnely taken over by gun wielding soldiers who force everyone to stay locked up in their homes while something mysterious and sinister seems to be occurring outside. Are the soldiers the good guys or the bad guys? For awhile we're not quite sure, and this chaotic situation manages to generate some effective tension.
The main focus of the storyline falls on the character of a mother who gets separated from her estranged daugther and is willing to risk her life by venturing outdoors in order to find her. For the first 30 minutes or so we share in the character's intense confusion as she desperately tries to make some sense of the craziness that's happening around her. But as the plot becomes bogged down in its claustrophobic indoor setting and a slew of talky revelations between the mother and her rather unappealing "one night stand," the production's lack of a budget becomes more and more pronounced.
Where the film really falls apart though is in its second half, which almost looks like it was made by a completely different director. The creepy slowburn of the opening is suddenly replaced by hectic and unconvincing action scenes, ridiculous plot twists and a storyline that suddenly turns into an 80's style creature feature complete with a dopey looking creature/mutant running amok.
You sense that the filmmakers thought they were being clever by subverting viewer expectations with a big "reveal" that explains the military's presence in the neighborhood and the bloody carnage, but in this case they may have outsmarted themselves by forcing the storyline toward an all-too-predictable conclusion. Had the film stayed the course of its promising opening and been a modest but more intimate "28 Days Later"-style thriller, it might have been a real sleeper. As it is, it just made me sleepy.
Anyways, the film is actually pretty good. At one point I was going to contact a friend of mine in the middle of the flick to say I have found one of the best horror films I may have ever scene but then a minute or two later it faded out a bit. So how and why and what is this flick all about (without spoilers)?
Basically we have Beth, a divorcee mother just outside of Liverpool who has lost custody of her daughter. It is Christmas Eve in the early morning when her daughter is dropped off by the father to spend the winter holidays with her. The daughter and mother are definately not on friendly terms. Let's just say if you are a mother and do not have custody (chosen or voluntary) there may be a problem. After a big fight with the mother, the daughter goes across the street to a neighbour's home. This is about the 16 minute mark. At this point, after a very good background on the characters we have the real beginning of the flick. No spoiler here, but as shown on the box cover, we have a bunch of British commandos come in and tell everyone to get back in their house.
The suspense builds for a number of reasons. We have a mother who wants to get her daughter back over in her own house yet can't because of the soldiers are forcing everyone inside. Also an unknown danger seems to be everywhere; is it terrorists or a chemical spill? No matter, the suspense builds pretty tightly for the next 41 minutes with a number of high energy scares, violence, suspense, and true horror moments. Within the house with her is a one-night stand she met the night before so her companion himself is a stranger and we learn more about him as well. These first 57 minutes of film were so incredibly good that I was on the edge of my seat saying this film is simply one of the best horror flicks I have seen in the past year.
Then, however, we have some problems. The film begins to become a bit silly. The soldiers, who themselves seem to be antagonists, appear to not be able to control just a few civilians and they behave almost as if they are criminal. And the secret of why they are there turns out to be at first a great twist but within ten minutes into the discovery it becomes ho-hum and not all that thrilling. And the soldiers seem to be a greater threat than the reason they are there in the first place which made the film seem very unrealistic.
So what we had with the first 57 minutes was a really good kenetic horror flick that has a final 16 minutes that end with a whimper. With the exception of the very last scene in the film the third act wasn't all that good.
Do I recommend it? I sure do. Just be a bit disappointed when the third act comes in. When I was thinking how great the flick was to the point of pausing my copy and calling a friend and saying you got to see this flick only to have that all fade away when the last 16 minutes occurred, just be sure to prepare yourself otherwise you'll be really down about what was a very good flick (that almost was great).
For the blood and boob crowd, those who love exploitation with their horror, you will not be disappointed. You get it all; nudity, a sex scene, horrible deaths, and out of your chair scares.
It's set in Scotland (or maybe Whales) where a father drops his daughter at her mom's house during the Christmas holidays because mom and dad are "trying to work things out." Daughter walks in on mom banging some other dude and daughter heads off to her neighbor friends house. Mom follows to explain but suddenly a S.W.A.T. team is present and some people are getting offed while others are being forced to stay in their homes.
People start acting strange and others show up all gooified and try to kill other people. So mom has to try to get to the neighbor's house to save her daughter and between the zombies and the S.W.A.T. dudes things get mighty tough.
,This is OK. What makes it watchable is the performance by Neve McIntosh. She does a sweet job.
On the down side is the fact that there isn't much new here. Some of the set-ups and fright gags you've seen before. Also, there's the ending. They should have made a bigger deal about her trying to get to her daughter. As it stands she gets to her right before the end of the film so some of the emotional stuff that should be happening doesn't happen. And the film doesn't really end because of this. It just sort of stops.
This is an OK view. Unless you're a die hard fan of this sort of thing I wouldn't place it at the top of the list, but it deserves a spot in the bull pen.
We are introduced to the key characters early on and the relationship between them is well-established and tangibly real and at times, uncomfortable. The performances by Shaun Dooley and Scottish actress Neve McIntosh are undeniably strong. However, I could not help but feel that this movie was more drama than horror. In fact, many regular faces from UK soaps turn up in Salvage.
The atmosphere and feel of the movie is spot on for the tone of the movie, never feeling like a film set and always genuine. There is a hint of 28 Days Later about the movie and that is not a criticism. The deaths and gore are realistic enough and not overly gratuitous like many horror movies these days.
The creature itself is not revealed to any great extent until around the last quarter of the movie but I was pleasantly surprised by the effects which were supported by the back story provided earlier in the film.
Other reviews of this movie have been distinctly more positive and full of praise for Salvage. Being that this movie is of domestic origin, I wish I too could be so positive but could not help but feel that someone had simply dropped a Special Forces team and a monster into an episode of Eastenders with the amount of drama going on.
At under 90 minutes, Salvage played out like an extended BBC melodrama which happened to have a horror aspect to it. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Other than the performances of the cast involved, I would suggest that nothing will surprise you about Salvage. From my viewing of the trailer, I was expecting more of a high-paced horror and yes, Salvage does have its moments but they are few and far between.