Written & Directed by Rob Zombie
The Lords of Salem doesn’t fulfill the average modern horror fan’s expectations, which is probably one of the best things you could say about Zombie’s latest feature. It feels like an undiscovered grindhouse film, and despite the lack of onscreen violence, The Lords of Salem is probably Zombie’s most uncompromising film yet.
The deliberate, slow pace sets it apart from Zombie’s previous films, but Zombie fans will notice several similarities to his earlier works. His wife, Sheri Moon Zombie, stars. And no, she still can’t act. This movie isn’t terrible, but it could have been better with the right actress in the lead. If it weren’t for the familiar faces in the supporting cast—Bruce Davison, Ken Foree, Meg Foster, Patricia Quinn—much of the film would fall flat.
At it’s core, the story is ridiculous: Heidi (Sheri Moon), a DJ at the local rock radio station, is sent a wooden box. Inside, she finds a vinyl record which was apparently sent by a coven of witches from the late 1600s. Makes sense, I’m in.
But here, story comes second. It’s true purpose is to support surreal visuals, which are the real driving force in the film. Some of them are borderline hilarious, but overall I was impressed by Zombie’s attention to detail, originality, and willingness to push the patience of his audience.
I’ve got to hand it to Zombie, The Lords of Salem seems to be an honest attempt to revive (or, pay homage to?) the surreal, cerebral horror film. It doesn’t always work, but the CGI-free effects help establish the uncanny tone required for such films.
Give it a chance: the excellent effects and supporting cast carry the film as far as they can, but they can’t make up for the film’s faults. I’m a sucker for the surreal, though, and hope Zombie takes another stab at this approach in the future.