Monday, April 29

The Lords Of Salem Review

The Lords of Salem
Dir: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster,
Bruce Davison, Dee Wallace,
Judy Geeson, and Ken Foree

It’s difficult to surprise the horror film fan, especially when so many of the films being produced are remakes or sequels. Though the claim of originality will be called into question on many accounts, if a film does something different away from mainstream norms the effects for horror are typically more appreciated. Rob Zombie is an impressive fan when it comes to the genre; his applications within his films, though sometimes flawed, have displayed touches of unique and inspired talent. Lords of Salem is unlike past films in Zombie’s catalog, his penchant for gore and violence far more restrained and substituted for a welcome addition of startling imagery and obscured narrative suggestions. Though these elements mix with varying degrees of success the film is still an interesting rendition of horror. 

Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a radio DJ in the fabled town of Salem, Massachusetts. While at work Heidi is sent a mysterious package containing an album titled only as “The Lords”.  The album, whenever played, entrances Heidi and produces flashbacks of Salem’s violent history from the perspective of a coven of witches. Heidi’s visions start to become more distressing as the evil lurking around her gets stronger.

Zombie seems to have pulled influence from numerous realms of horror. While many of Heidi’s visions of Salem’s bewitched past seem influenced by films like Haxan (1922) or The Devils (1971), the overall design feels reminiscent of late 70’s horror. The atmosphere of Salem is lifeless, a town shrouded in a blanket of grey and black. Heidi's apartment complex composes with intricate wall papered hallways while inside her bedroom she sleeps under a floor to ceiling portrait of George Melies smiling moon. The design aspects are detailed and give the film a unique texture.

The plot in Lords of Salem is nearly paper thin. The film sets up with a quick introduction to the characters, the occasional flashback, then the delivery of the mysterious album, and that’s pretty much it. However, Zombie utilizes the spaces in the narrative to incorporate some fairly shocking and strange imagery. Though certain images are purposefully misconstruing, and some simply aimless, they offer an unsettling nature to the composition of the scenes as the film builds towards the finale. However, the startling imagery does not compensate for the lack of character development. Heidi is mentioned early as a recovering drug addict then the topic isn't explored again until late in the narrative, and there are more characters introduced in this hinted manner. Zombie attempts to build a mystery, though the secrets revealed are predictable and others are kept to his own insight. The cast is a combination of genre veterans, always a nice treat for fans. Sheri Moon Zombie gives a decent performance in the lead, while Meg Foster is best as the frightening leader of the Salem coven. The remaining cast is given just minor parts and they do their best within the structure of the script.

Lords of Salem is a uneven film; sometimes peaked with startling potential and other moments lost within a flood of images. Still, horror fans, keeping an open mind, should give this film an opportunity as it is unlike any other horror film marketed in the mainstream today.

Monte’s Rating
3.25 out of 5.00
*This is NOT a film for the casual fan. 

No comments:

Post a Comment