Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Movie Review: SALVATION

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I was honored to yet again have the wonderful opportunity of attending and covering the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. This year’s festival housed a great lineup, featuring many movies that I was eager to check out, and with it taking place during the weekend of Friday the 13th in October, how could you not be interested? Needless to say, my list of films to see was incredibly long, with SALVATION being one that stood out to me greatly. Everything about this gem captured my attention, and with that being said, its North American premiere did not disappoint.

Directed by Denise Castro, SALVATION depicts Cris (Marina Boti), a young girl faced with undergoing open heart surgery and the emotional toll and mental anguish that tags along with the process leading up to the procedure. While stuck in a dreary hospital with only her mother for company, Cris finds salvation in a charming patient named Victor (Ricard Balada), who claims to be a vampire. His presence is her only beam of light in this dark situation, and as feelings between the two strongly arise, Cris contemplates becoming a vampire herself to become immortal and dodge her impending fate.

The vampire theme was an interesting synopsis twist, as I had no previous knowledge of this element. It definitely made for a solemn addition to the ambiance, shifting between two different gears throughout the film. I would consider SALVATION to be in the wheelhouse of a coming of age horror movie, but the supernatural element ended up being a pleasant surprise, as I feel it acts as a gateway to the film’s core. This story is rather smart and well-written, as it lightly drips with metaphors that a lot of us are faced with throughout our lives. Cris is emotionally and mentally torn with the avoidance of her surgery through the creation of escapism. Victor the vampire, whether real or not, is her way of fabricating an exit strategy to her stressful situation; an avoidance of death. As the clock ticks, she must either come to terms with the realism of her situation, or possibly face death through fabrication and fantasy. 

As a character, the growth Cris endures is powerful and very realistic in the eyes of anyone who’s been faced with a similar situation, especially at her age. Actress Marina Boti provides her character with the perfect amount of fear and hesitation, masked underneath the bold attitude of youth. Both Marina Boti and Ricard Balada do an excellent job capturing the imminent dread of their presented situations, forming a very strong bond in the process. The chosen color scheme also works nicely alongside the main characters, portraying the sense of death while confined inside a melancholy hospital setting. 

Having the faint essence of Let the Right One In with a reminiscent splash of Pan’s Labyrinth, SALVATION is a horror film to keep on your radar. I highly recommend this one, as its story showcases what the mind can create when faced with frightening trauma, and the strength one can possess when forced with difficult decisions. Salvation borders on the surreal while maintaining a realistic foundation that will chill you to the core. Be sure to catch this one in a festival near you.

Abigail Braman

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