Thanks to his successful music career, Rob Zombie has garnered a lot of attention and notoriety for his movie career. Let's see how 'The Lords of Salem' continues it.
Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is a DJ working in Salem, MA. One day, a mysterious package containing a record from a band called The Lords of Salem arrives for her at the radio station. She listens to it at home and is put into a trance and sees mysterious visions of a coven full of witches.
Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison), an author who has done extensive research on the Salem witch trials is a guest on the radio show the next day and he is intrigued by the story of the record. This causes him to do some reasearch...
Heidi is also uncertain of her landlord's new friends who have taken an interest in the tenant. What about the supposedly abandoned apartment five?
Zombie has gone on record as saying that he doesn't find horror movies scary and thus, inserts what he thinks people might find scary into his films. That sounds about right as we are given a number of horror movie cliches: bleeding walls, a demonic little fellow, a few montages of mildly evil images, a few foreboding visions that come out of nowhere, and some gibberish about prophecies and Satan...yada yada yada. As usual, the director has a keen eye for giving his films a certain look that works. A few fleeting glimpses of ghostly spookiness aside, the content is just not quite up to snuff. The body count is extremely low and the stakes seem to be almost non-existent for everyone except Heidi.
While they are somewhat important to the story, the scenes where the witches perform rituals are extremely stagey. They are needlessly long, drawn out and cheap-looking.
Where this works best is in the attempt to craft a moody bit of 70's trashy horror cinema. A number of those have some entertainment value and this could be seen as a tribute to those.
The ending is a bit of a mess. A few steps seem to be skipped to get to the final images. It can't be said here without spoiling things, but keep that in mind. It also sparks a montage that is a self-conscious attempt at being offensive. The usual Zombie elements are present: sleazy slow-motion shots, religious figures in compromising positions, and distorted, melting animation.
This time, it isn't to the film's detriment that Zombie has cast his wife. In fact, Mrs. Zombie is a reasonably sympathetic lead. Davison also adds some credibility.
Special features include: nothing on the rental DVD.
'The Lords of Salem' isn't the worst movie Zombie has directed. The problem is, it spends so much time trying to establish a creepy atmosphere that it forgets to be scary.
Rated R 101 minutes 2013