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Claire Parker, a small-town Midwestern girl, leaves her night job at the convenience store and awaits a ride home from her boyfriend Jimmy. When a stranger shows up in Jimmy's truck, claiming to be his friend, she senses danger, but what's the worst that could happen? A descent into a nightmare world follows.
For more about Salvage and the Salvage Blu-ray release, see Salvage Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on June 3, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Lauren Currie Lewis, Chris Ferry, Cody Darbe, Maureen Olander
Directors: Jeffrey Crook, Joshua Crook
» See full cast & crew
Salvage Blu-ray Review
An interesting premise is marred by technical deficiencies on this Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, June 3, 2009
If you were asked to name a film genre that's readily accessible to amateur filmmakers with aspirations of making it big, would horror come to mind? Some of the greatest directors of our generation began their careers making low-budget horror films. Unfortunately, for every Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi, there are thousands of directors that never get their big break. That's part of the reason I enjoy watching low budget horror films. Each time I sit down to take one in, I wonder if I'm about to watch the initial offering of a promising director, or a shallow knock off, destined to find a lonely place in the one dollar section of my local rental store.
Directed by Joshua and Jeffrey Crook with a reported budget under $25,000, Salvage is a perfect example of a low-budget film with promising potential and I'd be surprised if we don't see more from the Crook Brothers in the years to come.
Fresh out of high school, Claire (Lauren Currie Lewis) has taken a late-night job as the clerk of a small-town convenience store. One night, as her shift comes to an end, she awakens from a gruesome dream about her death at the hands of a mysterious man (Chris Ferry) in the basement of her home. Hoping to find comfort in her immature boyfriend (Cody Darbe), she tells him of the dream, but he's more interested in turning any conversation into a sexual advance and offers little help in deciphering the dream. As the days go by, Claire continues to see the mysterious man in various places throughout town (shoveling dirt in a local field, hovering outside the bath curtain and even stalking her in the convenience store) and continues to awaken each morning from increasingly violent dreams that are somehow connected to the basement of her home. Caught reliving her own brutal murder, Claire sets out to learn the identity of the psychotic man in her nightmares and put a stop to the repeating cycle of horror.
In order for you to fully appreciate the film, I'll refrain from discussing any details about the conclusion. The ride is somewhat bumpy, but it's the destination that makes this production worth the price of admission. As the film opened, I was immediately put off by the low production values (which are substantially worse than I'm accustomed to, even for a horror film made on a shoe-string budget). Thankfully, the filmmakers quickly raise the stakes by slowly building suspense and utilizing some truly creepy camera tricks. As the viewer, we're left in the dark throughout the majority of the film, yet I found myself coming up with my own theories about what was taking place. Most of them turned out to be wrong in the end, but it made the film surprisingly engaging. If you're drawn to a suspenseful plot, and can handle one or two gruesome sequences, you'll find Salvage a deliciously creepy experience.
As you'd expect from a film with a meager budget of $25,000, the overall acting matches the amateur feel of the entire production. Lauren Currie Lewis and Chris Ferry should be applauded for turning in acceptable performances as Claire and Duke, but for all their potential, you can still tell they haven't had much acting experience. I wish the role of Jimmy were played by someone aside from Cody Darbe and I'd be surprised if we see him in any future acting roles. His character isn't written all that well in the first place, but his goofy acting is a huge detriment to the tone of the film. They could have plucked any teenager off the street and likely realized an improvement in the boyfriend role. Bottom line, the acting won't ruin the experience, but the supporting players could have been a lot better.
Salvage Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080i utilizing the MPEG-2 codec (at an average bitrate of 25Mbps), Salvage looks fairly dismal on Blu-ray. The primary disappointment is a lack of fine object detail, with the majority of the film appearing marginally better than standard definition. To make matters worse, there are several instances of aliasing (the leaves blowing on the ground at 53:25 are a good example), some noticeable line shimmering (look at the silver lining on the side of the pickup around the 58:28 mark), and I detected the presence of some minor edge enhancement. Motion blurring also becomes a problem in several scenes, but that could be the result of framerate issues in the source material and not a direct deficiency of the transfer. Regarding the color spectrum, I'd assume the transfer is an accurate representation of the source material, which maintains a dreary feel, as if every scene were shot on an overcast day. It suits the dark, oppressive tone of the film, but doesn't add any visual pop to the transfer. Lastly, black levels and contrast are decent considering the limitations of the low budget source material, but won't stack up very well next to a typical Blu-ray release of a Hollywood production (which pretty well summarizes the entire video experience).
Salvage Blu-ray, Audio Quality
We're given two audio options on the disc, which don't sound significantly different from one another. I chose to listen primarily to the Linear PCM 2.0 track, which is surprisingly good for a 2-channel experience. On the positive side, I never caught myself straining to hear the dialogue, and it was well-balanced with the musical numbers that played in the background. The sound effects were also handled well, with several well-placed elements that may cause a viewer or two to jump out of their seat (I'd never admit to that, butů). Considering this wasn't a large-scale production, I'd give kudos to the sound engineer for making the most of what he/she had to work with. On the negative side, this is still a subpar audio experience next to other Blu-ray releases and the lack of a 5.1 surround track is disappointing on any film in the horror genre.
Overall, the film lacks the sound dynamics and precision of a major release, causing the film to feel exactly as low budget as it really is. If you're capable of appreciating the audio track with that understanding, you'll likely find it's a serviceable listening experience.
Salvage Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
From a navigation standpoint, the disc doesn't have a top menu, and the film will begin to play immediately after loading in your player. The only extra on the disc is a theatrical trailer (standard definition), which can only be accessed through the pop-up menu.
Salvage Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you have an interest in low-budget horror films, Salvage is well worth your time. The script takes some clumsy turns and the acting is marginal, but the overall plot is innovative and fresh (which tends to be rare for modern horror films). Considering this Blu-ray is currently one of the least expensive discs on the market, I'm sure most horror enthusiasts won't bat an eye at the idea of adding Salvage to their collection. From a personal standpoint, the deficiencies in the technical presentation and the diminished entertainment value upon repeat viewings add up to a firm rental recommendation, but nothing more.
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