The Lords of Salem (2012)

Francis Matthias: "No, there's no classic witches. Witchcraft is nothing but a psychotic belief brought upon by a delusional state of mind."
By Rob Zombie
With Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison and Jeff Daniel Phillips

I have known Rob Zombie ever since his music was used in The Matrix (1999) even though I wouldn't call myself a huge fan, I do listen to some records here and there. When it comes to his movies however, I have seen them all (except the animated one, well we have boundaries, right?) and I find them quite entertaining. They are not necessarily well written or amazingly acted, but what makes them stand apart is the use of colors and special editing to give this gritty old school horror look, while keeping a very fast pace with the action (most clearly visible in Halloween (2007)). On top of this rusty image that really gives a special feel to his movies, I enjoy the casting with recurrent actors and famous horror films actors and also the very rock and extreme metal references. All this to say that I was excited to see The Lords of Salem.

Heidi Hawthorne is a radio host who lives alone with her dog. Being a recovering drug addict, things are going fairly well for her until the day where she receives a vinyl disc in a wooden box by a band called The Lords. Unaware of any other information she plays the record and immediately feels a headache. On the next day, she and her co-hosts play the track on the air and decide to call the band The Lords of Salem. Heidi and all the other women in town who are listening to the radio feel weird until the record stops. This is where Heidi starts having very bizarre nightmares in which she loses the blurry line between dream and reality and sees herself linked to the old witches trial of Salem.

To put it in a few words: what a blasphemous demon spawn of a movie. I am fairly used to blasphemous music but when it comes to movies, this is high up there. The story is not exactly original: Satan wants to bring a kid into the world (Rosemary's Baby (1968) anyone?) and some group of people/witches help this come true. The movie has a lot of very good scenes, for example the nightmares are visually pretty amazing, while a lot of other scenes leave you wondering what was the point.

Rob Zombie once again casts his wife, in the main role, who always makes up for her lack of acting skills with her looks. The three witches are really great and without even doing much at first are quite scary. The movie is not as scary as his previous movie and the horror is more focused on some shots or the feeling of evil forces closing in on the main character, rather than pure adrenaline constant action. It might be a trend among a lot of new horror movies to try to scare the audience with a few well placed shots. Most of the evil scenes are simply shocking more than scary, although, as I mentioned, the amount of blasphemy both made me cringe and giggle.

The music plays a big role and is definitely not a let down, from a short appearance of black metal (and the farcical "Count" with his Glen Benton's forehead) to the incantation chant via the appearance of psychedelic rock, the soundtrack nails it.

The main problem of the movie is that we are satiated with shock and beautiful/gritty imagery but we haven't gone anywhere when it comes to the story really. The role of Francis Matthias who is supposed to be the expert on the devil and Salem's history is cut so short that we only have brief explanations. We have no clue what happens to all the males since the concert is only for the women... In other words, we wonder what all this imagery was for if it led us nowhere. Said imagery was quite powerful though and as I recently watched Altered States (1980) some of the references were really obvious. The lack of digital effects was true to roots of old horror.

I liked: Visually satisfying. Shock value. Music.

I disliked: Unsatisfying with the story. Bizarre for the sake of it.

Well, I liked it more than I should simply because it was so over the top with the religious and satanical imagery so that's definitely not anyone's cup of tea. I think it'll remain a film for a certain niche.


Post a Comment