“Rob Zombie makes a Roman Polanski film” and be prepared for everything implied by that statement.
OVERALL SCORE – 3/5
The Lord’s of Salem is a 2012 supernatural horror film written and directed by Rob Zombie. It stars Sheri Moon Zombie, Jeff Daniel Philips, Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Bruce Davison and a host of other actors in minor roles. The film plays on the ancient story of witches in Salem, Massachusetts and the effect they have on a modern-day radio DJ.
First things first, any audience member who may be a tad religious may have to say a few Hail Marys for watching this film. The film does have some beautifully shot blasphemous imagery. Some of the lighting and the ominous tone present in the film from frame one are the film’s biggest selling points. Sheri Moon Zombie does her job considerably well throughout the film. She has precious little to offer in terms on character but the style with which she comes off as a damaged and vulnerable everyday woman is quite engaging.
The score of the film adds to the aforementioned tone. The film does have a score which varied wildly from your everyday horror film. It might be the type of score most other horror films might get if they aren’t hell-bent on sounding like most of their peers. The directing however leaves much to be desired. Gory imagery, allusions to the occult and some creepy creature designs can only do so much when they are trying to hide some inept shot selections and camera moves.
Apart from a decently engaging plot, I could see myself asking if I found anything else engaging. The answer is clearly none. After kicking the story off with a plot device which makes an appearance in a creative manner, the film slowly loses steam. The plot goes down the rabbit hole of being predictable and hollow. The makeup and costumes (or lack thereof) add to the creep factor of the overall viewing experience. It goes hand in hand with the score to act as the saving grace of a sagging second half.
The difference of a master director and a regular filmmaker is very easy to spot when The Lords of Salem and the Roman Polanski film it is similar to are watched back to back. The clear divide that is created in terms of storytelling, tension building, iconic imagery and payoff are clear for all to see. This is not to say that The Lords of Salem does not have much to offer, but what is has to offer might not stay in the collective memory of the audience for more than 10 minutes after its credits roll.
Rob Zombie is a fun filmmaker. I quite enjoy his remake of Halloween. He is no John Carpenter but he is serviceable at best. A quick read about the film’s production history shows that, this was the first film where Zombie was given complete creative control. A completely unhinged Rob Zombie makes for an interesting watch if not a memorable one.
OVERALL SCORE – 3/5