It’s not easy being a British horror movie.
Most of the time, you don’t have much money, you find it hard to impress people and you don’t have the good looks that your American counterparts seem to be blessed with.
It wasn’t always this way though. British horror used to be great looking and well respected, back in the Hammer Horror days. And of course, to some extent, there have been the odd glimmers of light breaking through more recently (28 Days Later, The Descent, Shaun of the Dead).
New offering, Salvage, is a debut feature from director Lawrence Gough, and fortunately promises to be yet another original, enjoyable Brit horror flick.
Set in suburban England, the tale opens with a teenage girl visiting her mother, a child stuck in between what appears to be a difficult divorce.
Jodie and her mother, Beth don’t get on well, and it doesn’t take long for storm our of her mother’s house.
Beth prepares herself to find her daughter and make things right, but is stopped in her tracks when a group of SAS style soldiers arrive at the door, armed at the teeth and ordering everyone to stay inside.
Beth is trapped in her home with Kieran – a one night stand from the night before, and they become gripped with terror as one of Beth’s neighbours (a middle-eastern man) is shot by the squad.
With news reports of a mysterious container being washed up on a nearby beach, and rumours of terrorism, Beth and Kieran are soon knee deep in blood and fear as they try to fight off an unseen enemy and find her daughter before making an escape.
Is it a killer virus? zombies? mutant soldier? or something completely different?
At the root of it, perhaps the real enemy is our own fears – amplified by the media. The unseen terrors and the paranoia that eat away at the population and make us turn on one another.
The great thing about Salvage is that it keeps you guessing, much longer than most mainstream movies do nowadays. It really is refreshing.
Salvage is a great film. Good acting talent, good effects, well shot, well edited. It serves as a perfect example of what film makers can achieve without needing a huge budget.
It’s obvious that Gough and his crew were passionate about the pfilm, you don’t get these results by approaching a project with uncertainty.
From the opening, I was hooked. Jodie’s car journey with her dad, the hum drum conversation, and expression of feelings towards her mother – all great for giving us just enough back story.
By the time Jodie arrives at the lazy cul-de-sac, things are already taking off. And Salvage doesn’t hang around; action, violence and mystery all present and accounted for within the opening 10 minutes. I would challenge anyone to switch off before the climax!
A great momentum is maintained throughout, cast performances and character behaviour holding out well.
And there’s no need for flashy CGI or excessive special effects. Everything is modest, and it works nicely. It’s as if the elements have been rationed out to perfection. Just the right amount of action, the right amount of blood, a little glimpse of this, a splash of that, has Gough found some kind of hidden recipe for the perfect indie horror film?
I can imagine that Salvage won’t ‘storm the states’, its Englishness possibly too much for them to stomach. But I don’t think it was ever aimed at that sort of market anyway.
It’s without a doubt the best British indie horror film I have seen so far this year. It’s going to take something exceptional to topple it from the top.
Do not miss this.