Salvation (2007) – By Nic Brown

 Somewhere between our world, Heaven and Hell, there is another place. It coexists with the world around us but its denizens are not seen by most. This is the purgatory world of the film SALVATION and it is walked by Gabriel (J.A. Steele) and Malchezidek (Ben Bayless), two 14th century Knights Templar who, unlike the rest of their kind, did not ascend to Heaven when they were slaughtered in a massacre. Instead they became agents of death.

Appearing only to those whose death is imminent, Gabriel is sent to claim souls destined for Heaven. Her opposite number, Malchezidek, appears to those less fortunate in their afterlife accommodations. When the soul is in question, they often duel over the outcome.

This pattern has been repeated an almost infinite number of times until something changes. Gabriel interferes in the death of a pregnant woman by saving her unborn child. At the time the purpose of this seems unclear. It is only later when that child, Michaela (Heather Surdukan) and her father are both slain by a biker gang that we begin to understand Gabriel’s intentions.

Michaela’s soul is taken into purgatory where she grows to adulthood. Fifteen years after her death she learns that she has been chosen to become like Gabriel, and claim souls. However, she’s given her human form one last time and a choice: try to redeem the souls of the men who killed her and her father or let them be taken by Malchezidek. It is this choice that will ultimately determine her fate as well as the destiny of the killers.

In addition to her role in the film, J.A. Steele also wrote and directed SALVATION. Steele has been called a “Female Roger Corman” for her previous works and one can take that title as either good or bad. Either way, SALVATION does have the markings of a cult film rather than a mainstream hit. Steele brings her background in martial arts into the production by having the characters use sword play both in claiming the souls and in the occasional duels over them. This, coupled with her directing style, gives the movie a grindhouse feel. There is enough action to keep the viewer involved in the film, but the plot feels convoluted and unclear.

SALVATION also isn’t going to win any awards for acting. Many of the scenes feel forced. With that said, actress Heather Surdukan does an above average job in her role as Michaela. Overall SALVATION is an enjoyable film to watch. The special effects are good, the plot is decent, if difficult to follow, and it does what it sets out to do: entertain. So pick up a copy of J.A. Steele’s SALVATION if for no other reason than to watch leather clad Steele engage in swordplay.