Saturday, June 16, 2007

Salvage (2006)

Salvage is part slasher, part psychological thriller and even has a dash of humor thrown in for good measure. Written and directed by the Crook Brothers, Salvage is a smart, twisted and suspense-filled film that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Claire is a 19-year-old gas station attendant in a small town. After working the night shift, she waits for her boyfriend Jimmy to pick her up. Instead, a man named Duke drives up in Jimmy's truck, saying he was sent to give her a lift. Claire nervously accepts and after a creepy exchange with Duke she is dropped off at home. Claire locks and bolts the front door as Duke drives away, but fails to notice the back door is wide open until it is too late. Duke clocks her, drags her down into the basement and kills her. Suddenly, Claire is back at the gas station and her last day repeats itself. No matter how many times Claire changes the events of her last day or tries to figure out what is going on, Duke always finds and kills her. She is forced to repeat her last day over and over. Can Claire figure out what is happening to her and who Duke is before she is killed yet again?

Salvage really impressed me, as I didn't go in expecting too much. The story, written by the Crook Brothers, is taut and kept me wildly guessing what was happening up until the end. Is Claire crazy? Is she having premonitions? Is the town in on it? Is she imagining everything? Who is Duke and why is he doing this? Though the ending isn't difficult to figure out, that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the film.

An interesting aspect of the film is that unlike most horror films, Salvage is shot in broad daylight instead of nighttime. This gives the film an even more eerie, disorienting feel. You would think that showing everything in the daytime would make the film less scary, but the opposite is true. Daylight actually makes the film more frightening and fills it with dread. There are also some great camera angles (especially when Duke drags Claire down the stairs) and compositions that always keep the film interesting.

It also helps that the film has wonderful acting from the leads. As Claire, Lauren Currie Lewis is fantastic. She is believable, natural, smart and self-reliant. She has a very girl-next-door quality, and whenever Duke caught up with her I really felt for her. Speaking of Duke, he is played by Chris Ferry. From the moment that Duke first invades the screen I could sense his ominous intentions. Ferry plays Duke with a frightening intensity that shook me to the core! Even when he has his moments of dark humor, Ferry doesn't let you forget that Duke is a deadly killer. Balancing out the foreboding atmosphere of the film is Cody Darbe as Claire's boyfriend Jimmy. He is a comedic jolt that alleviates the tension throughout the film. I was surprised to find that this is Darbe's first on-screen role because he is completely natural in front of the camera!

If you are a gorehound looking for a torture flick, you're looking at the wrong movie, buddy. Salvage does not contain the amount of gore that would satiate most grue fiends, though the amount contained is appropriate for the film. There is a very nice "face lift" scene, complete with the sounds of flesh being peeled off, that was definitely cringe-worthy, as well as some brutal violence towards Claire. She gets punched, kicked in the face and further battered by Duke, but the camera remains at a distance. Still, these scenes of violence are pretty hard to watch and very believable!

If you are looking for something different that melds together the aspects of a slasher film and a psychological thriller I highly recommend checking out Salvage. It's a clever and highly entertaining way to spend a little under an hour and a half.

Available from Amazon!

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