Edinburgh International Film Festival

Salvage (2009)

Starring: Neve McIntosh, Shaun Dooley, Linzey Cocker, Trevor Hancock, Dean Andrews, Paul Opacic, Kevin Harvey

Directed by: Laurence Gough

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Neve McIntosh as Beth in British horror film Salvage

Christmas in the 'burbs. A husband and wife are arguing over breakfast. A mother is trying to get rid of last night's one night stand before her estranged daughter arrives for the holidays – too late. Next thing the inhabitants of this peaceful close know, the sky is dark with helicopters and the streets are overrun with black-clad soldiers with guns. The residents are ordered to stay in their homes and lock their doors.

Yes, you've guessed it: a top secret military experiment has gone horribly wrong (do they ever go right?) and a clean up operation is in force. But the threat of the malformed, slimy, murderous monster that's blundering down the cul-de-sac pales into insignificance beside the dangers posed by the crack squad trying to contain it and keep its existence hidden – no matter what the cost.

Neve McIntosh in Salvage

But as frantic mother Beth (Neve McIntosh) creeps through the houses of her dismembered neighbours, stepping over their bodies in her search for her daughter, crawls through woods and sneaking down alleyways, she too is transformed into a deranged, screaming, bloody, weapon-wielding maniac. Just who is the monster here? In extremis, it would appear it could be any of us.

Salvage is hardly an original tale, nobly acknowledging the masters (particularly Night of the Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) in structure and style. But it's a well-paced, involving movie that keeps the tension ratcheted up nicely, dealing out shocks that actually advance the plot while rounding out the characters sufficiently for us to care about their fates. All in all, a promising and accomplished piece of horror film making and another gold star for the Brits. I look forward to seeing what director Laurence Gough comes up with next.

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