Eric D. Snider


Movie Review


by Eric D. Snider

Grade: D

Released: January 21, 2006


Directed by:


What a good short film "Salvage" would have made, and what a bad long film it is. It's a low-budget, low-impact, low-quality horror flick with a cool idea that simply doesn't withstand being stretched over 90 minutes. Chop it down to about 20 and you'd have something.

It begins with Claire (Lauren Currie Lewis), a 19-year-old college student, leaving her graveyard shift at a convenience store and waiting for her boyfriend, Jimmy, to pick her up. But arriving instead, in Jimmy's truck, is Duke (Chris Ferry), a friend of Jimmy's from the salvage yard where he works. Allegedly, Jimmy asked Duke to give Claire a ride home.

Scary-movie things happen at that point, and then Claire wakes up. She's back at the convenience store, apparently having dozed off on the job. The whole thing was a dream. OR WAS IT?!?!?!??!

Back in reality now, the film spins its wheels for a good long time. Claire's mom (Maureen Olander) is behaving strangely in the basement. Jimmy (Cody Darbe) says he had a sexy dream about Claire and a friend of hers. Claire experiences deja vu in class and sees the killer from her dream stalking her elsewhere. OR DOES SHE?!?!?!?!?!??!

We realize early on that very little, if any, of what's happening is real, that most of it is in Claire's head. When the film goes into "Groundhog Day" mode (albeit with variations each time Claire is attacked), the relevant question becomes: Why should we be scared for Claire when we know she's just going to wake up any minute anyway?

I also wonder: How many times can one character back away slowly from something while shaking her head in horror and saying, "No ... no ..."? It seems like half the shots in the film are of Claire doing that. The other half are of her walking slowly down stairs or around corners, saying, "Hello? Is someone there?"

Jeff and Josh Crook, the brothers who wrote and directed "Salvage," have made three little-seen films before this one, all available on DVD. There are encouraging reviews of those movies on the Internet. "Salvage," the Crooks' first foray into horror, is likely a downturn in quality for them. It's a film that will probably nowhere and do nothing.

Grade: D

Not rated, probably R for a lot of harsh profanity, some graphic violence

1 hr., 30 min.

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This item has 22 comments

  1. Mandeena says:

    I caught the tail end of this movie the other day... regretfully i decided to not change the channel... what bothered me more than the bad acting and lame concept was the music... the music itself was decent... but who thought that it went with what was going on AT ALL!??? it felt like someone was trying to meet a deadline and just threw out some no name band's music to get the job done... at one point i felt like i was watching a low budget music video... they music director apparently decided to use the WHOLE song rather than a snip-it... weird

    i wouldn't recommend this movie at all unless you are high and want a good laugh!

  2. Sam says:

    Maybe Mandeena needs to watch THE WHOLE MOVIE rather than "the tail end" before reviewing it. I found the movie interesting and compelling. The face tearing scene haunted me for weeks. This is not a blood-and-guts horror movie, but rather, a psychologically disturbing journey to an ending that is satisfying and original. Yes, there are holes. Yes, the music doesn't always fit. Yes, the acting sometimes leaves something to be desired. But compared to Hollywood "horror", it's a breath of fresh air. For example, I watched "Vacancy" shortly after "Salvage" and the former just didn't have the same effective eerie tone. Vacancy had more obvious holes and was much more predictable. And, it just wasn't that scary. I found Salvage more frightening because Claire is trapped in some kind of world that makes her experience her murder again and again. It's only at the end when we find out the truth, and it is brilliant.

  3. CAT says:

    Could anyone explain me the end of the movie??????? Email me

  4. Sam says:

    Hi CAT...I can't email you because I don't have your email address, but I'll explain the end of the movie right here: *****MAJOR SPOILER ALERT*****...Throughout the movie, when we see Claire, we are really seeing Duke in hell--only Duke doesn't know he's in hell, and he doesn't know that his "soul" is trapped in his victim, Claire. The reason for this is so that Duke will have to experience what it was like for his victim. The punishment delivered to Duke by hell is that he must experience Claire's murder again and again. At first Duke doesn't realize what's happening because he thinks he's Claire. At the end of the movie, "Claire" is really Duke realizing that he is in hell, and it's an "eye for an eye" here (or should I say "a face for a face"?). Finally at the end of the movie, "Claire" realizes who "she" really is--Duke--and now that Duke is fully aware of himself (this is evidenced when the mother pushes Claire to her knees before Duke, but in another shot of Claire we see Duke kneeling in front of himself) he will experience the face-peeling murder at the hands of "himself," who is probably another "demon." Does this help explain the ending, CAT?

  5. Sam says:

    Oops....I need to make one revision to the explanation above: I should have said "Except for the very first scene when Duke picks up Claire and murders her, throughout the movie when we see Claire, we are really seeing Duke in hell..." The way I interpret the movie, the only time Claire is Claire is in the first murder scene. When "she" wakes up from that "nightmare," "she" is really a "he"--Duke.

  6. M3D13V4L says:

    Sam, thank you so much for elaborating this. I just saw the movie on showtime, and I was very confused, so I just started searching the web, and came across this site, and your explanation. This is a big load off of my mind. Thank you.

  7. Nug says:

    I've seen Salvage but don't quite get the ending. Doesn't anyone know what was the meaning of this movie?

  8. Matt Soergel says:

    Great movie for the budget they were working with. I don't know what the review above was expecting (maybe a movie with a twist that is obvious starting 20 minutes in?). Thanks for the explanation Sam.

  9. Heather L. says:

    Sam, I just watched this movie last night for the first time. It really bothered me that I didn't understand the ending. lol I thought I'd google and try to find other people like me. :) I read your explanations above and that really helps out. **WARNING: SPOILER ALERT** But what happened to Jimmy? Since most of this movie was Duke's own personal hell and not real, then Jimmy wasn't really killed by Duke? And that skull "Claire" found in that field with the star earring, was that Duke really looking down at Claire's body? I guess I'm still just a bit confused. Thanks Sam. Overall I thought it was an o.k. movie. I would watch it again, but I wouldn't pay theater admission price for it.

  10. Sam says:

    Hey, Heather:

    Great questions...I hadn't really thought about Jimmy in context of Duke's hell because I was so focused on Claire. That's a good question, though. Perhaps Jimmy is just another demon pretending to be Jimmy, like the mother, in order to trick Duke into thinking he's Claire at the start of his journey through "hell." Not sure on that, though. Could be a plot hole. I do think that Jimmy and Claire were both killed by Duke. I think the evidence that the double murder was a real event is found in the chase dreams Claire (who is really Duke) has. In reality, Duke murdered Claire and Jimmy, and was sought by authorities, who chased him through the woods to his home, where they shot him and he died. Duke, then dead, "wakes up" in "hell" as Claire, his victim--only he doesn't know this until the slow realization dawns on him at the end. I think that's why the chase dreams are so important throughout the movie. At first we wonder why Claire is having these dreams of being chased by authorities. The dreams get longer and longer and more and more detailed, leading up to "Claire's" realization that "she" is really Duke. Part of his realization is also finding the skull with the star earring in the field. So, yes, it was really Duke looking down at Claire's skull with the star earring. WAtching it, we are confused, because we wonder how Claire can by holding her own skull. But the clues that Claire is really Duke are all there throughout the movie. If you watch it again, you'll see. There is one unnerving scene in the movie when Claire is taking a bath and she hears her mother talking to someone. Pay attention to what the mother is saying. She is asking someone if Claire suspects anything. To me, this is a conversation between the "demon" pretending to be Claire's mother, and another unseen "demon" whom we see at the end is pretending to be Duke (to inflict the horror on the real Duke). It sounds more confusing than it is. Watch it again. Look for the clues. They're all there.

  11. Danni says:

    I not long ago watched this movie (but it was called gruesome) so even that is a mystery hehe. and when it came to the end i frowned and wondered what the??

    i did assume that the soul of duke was trapped inside Clair but wasnt sure.

    I also assumed that duke killed the boyfriend at the salvage yard, took his ute to pick up the girlfriend to kill her.

    I only think this because of the newspaper article she found at the library.

    there are a few bits that still confuse me, maybe i need to watch it again..

  12. ALC4ever says:

    This movie scared the **** out of me; I had to cover my eyes and plug my ears a couple of times. Ew! I really need to carry a gun!!!

  13. Ash says:

    the face cutting scene was so real I could not see it directly.

  14. Jessy says:

    I'm very confused right now. I'm watching the movie right now and I don't understand anything. How did she claw his eyes out, but he still lived!? and after she was covered in blood how did it just magically wash off, and all the camera footage changed?

  15. Kassidy says:

    OK. I didn't understand this movie at all until I read Sam's post.

    I understood she kept seeing her death over and over again, but I didn't understand why she turned into him at the end. Wow, I am slow.

    NOW that I understand, I'd rate this movie and freaking TEN because it was DEFINITELY psychologically disturbing and it WAS a breather from the typical slasher films that are out today. The face cutting scene will haunt me for weeks, as well lol.

    I used to have nightmares about a man murdering me when I was about ten or so, so this movie reallllly creeped me out! Haha. I am a sucker for cheesy horror movies though- but this one, is by far the best I have seen in a while!

  16. Lance says:

    I picked this movie set by Echo Entertainment for 5 bucks at Walmart and frankly i did not understand the movie plot line and i thought it stunk.

    It's pretty hard being a Serial killer in a small town without people finding you out.

    The plot would have been more believable if this was in a big city slasher and killer which is all to real in real life.

    Maybe a killer on a one time impulsive killing spree but not spread over weeks or months.

    Most serial killers do not have any sense of guilt or remorse and PLEASE do not drag Satan or God into this.....

    This movie was just as confusing like The Ninth Gate With Frank Langella and Johnny Depp.

    If the Ninth and final page from the Three copies of the Book Of Shadows was a forgery and Boris Balken (Frank Langella) could not enter the Ninth Gate and conjure up satan himself then how Cruso (johhny Depp) return to the castle ?

  17. Cara says:

    omg i love u sam! thank you so much for explaining the ending to me. as for what happened to jimmy they said that duke has someone cut up in the back of his truck.. and at the end u see two people in like ghost form who are claire and jimmy. but yea he killed jimmy and he was in the back of the truck when he picked up claire that one time. and that............................ is all i got outta that movie lol

  18. kymelle says:

    Sam- so you're saying that throughout the entire film, all of "claire's" interactions were with demons pretending to be her mother and her friends? How about in the police station, seeing herself fight no one and how the detective & officers reacted? And for some reason, I kept wanting to focus on him as the boyfriend the mom mentioned, and if he had also killed her because of how she was in the basement scenes and how near the end she called for claire to help her? Remember how the mother mentioned her date possibly spending the night? I wondered if maybe that's why HE kept appearing in the house. But then, bit by bit we do see HIM murder jimmy in the salvage yard?? This movie is just too busy. Depending on you mood, you could interpret this movie in anyway and still have it work out!!??

  19. sean4554 says:

    I hadn't even heard of this film until I bought the 4-movie 2-dvd det at Walmart around January.

    Excellent! I think very highly of this film. It is not perfect by any means but it works extremely well. Both Lewis and Ferry are outstanding.

  20. maddimodel says:

    i agree this movie is not perfect and there are parts of the movie that require an imagination (how can claire stare down at her own skull?), but this is not uncommon with scary/horror movies. has anyone seen the grudge for crying out loud? for what the film makers were working with, i think the movie is a major success. one needs to pay attention to minor details in the movie if they expect answers to their major questions and for the movie to make sense. a question people are asking on this site is does duke not realize he is claire and experiencing his own crime? if we knew the answer to this the movie would make so much more sense, right!? well, pay attention where the "mother" asks if "claire" (duke) suspects anything. you see, "clair" (who at this point is duke in hell), does not and is not supposed to know he is in hell. he is at the mercey of the demons and they want him to be scared S***less just as claire probably was when he finds out whats really going on. so with this in mind, realize that the audience doesnt know whats going on, and the character, duke, doesnt know whats going on. its a very common form of storytelling. look it up. keep this in mind and the movie will make soooo much more sense.

  21. Laurie B says:

    I received this movie for my birthday last week, and I loved it. It is a very unsettling picture, and at times I was wondering whether Claire had lived through a horrible experience and was slowly losing her mind. When she was in the classroom and the professor read the line of 'abandon hope all ye who enter here' I immediately thought that SHE was in Hell, all the time wondering what she had done that was so awful. The ending was extremely satisfying, and I went back a few times to replay those last couple minutes. Watching it over I still can't shake the feeling that Claire herself is reliving this again and again, and I agree with Sam about the removal of Claire's face - that has stuck with me and will probably continue to. Mr. Snider, the reviewer, undoubtedly did not take the time to really focus on the film, and, by the way - the movie is not 90 minutes, it's 79 minutes long. I would grade this a B+. Personally, if there is a Hell, I hope it's like this for the murderers, rapists, pedophiles . . . need I go on?

  22. Christina says:

    I loved this movie!! Very scary & cree-py!! ((SPOILER ALERT FOLLOWING!!!!!))

    SAM~~~~~~ Thanks so much for your in-depth explanation! It helped so much! I could never quite understand the end :( I see it totally the way you say - when "Duke" switches at the end from "Claire" to his own self. .... And the "Jimmy" character!! - Remember at the police station when Claire is talking to the Sheriff? He tells her that "Duke" was shot the week before - they even found a guy "chopped up in his own truck" ... that was definitely Jimmy in the truck wrapped up. And if Claire is really Duke it explains why she knows to look at the bindle wrapped in the back of the truck ... oooo all those pieces! :(

    Awesomely Scary Movie! Loved it!!

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