Lords of Salem Review
Usually, when the casual celebrity decides not to keep their day job, that can mean trouble. But for Rob Zombie, its honestly been quite the experiment so far. Rob Zombie is a heavy-metal-star-turned-film-director whose career has been intriguing at most. "House of 1000 Corpses," "The Devil's Rejects" "Werewolf Women of the S.S.," the "Halloween" remake and its sequel...he's created quite the list of films, yet all of those films don't come to mind when I meditate upon the best modern horror films.
"Lords of Salem" is a giant leap forward for the director. A film that substitutes blood and gore for mood and atmosphere. "Lords of Salem" is a horror film whose boo-scares really get you. This is something that is darkly original yet very much in the vein of Zombie's former filmography as well. I speak with no hype when I say that this is the highlight of his filmmaking career so far. Definitely not something I expected to watch tonight as I sat down to view it.
Sheri Moon Zombie, Rob's real life wife, takes center stage as Heidi. Heidi is a disk jockey living in Salem, Massachusetts. One night she gets a wooden box containing a vinyl record, a box that mysteriously found her at work. As she begins to listen to the music (the creepy, disturbing music I might add) she falls into the most horrific hallucinations and bad dreams that I have seen in awhile. For an entire week, Heidi gets involved in some kind of awakening of an old witch coven. She needs to break free of it before this coven can do...whatever. No matter what that "whatever" is, it surely isn't good.
Sheri Moon Zombie has been featured in all of her husbands movies, but we've never seen her like this before. She really jumps right into the role becoming somebody who is barely recognizable. She is satisfyingly strong as Heidi. The real scare comes from Meg Foster, who is completely disappears into her role as Margaret Morgan. (Morgan is the leader of the old witch coven from the 1690's.) She is evil incarnate in this movie and she disturbed me deeply every time she shambled onscreen. The cinematography by Brandon Trost is once again effective. It gives "Lords of Salem" the usual, Zombie grunge look which makes the film much scarier. Add the good performances, scary music and creepy story...then you've got a sleepless night.
The only misstep is the usual misstep from every one of Rob Zombie's movies...he can't stick the landing. The ending creates an unsatisfying whole to a movie that really revved its engine throughout. I wish there was a little bit more closure to the whole thing rather than more tense imagery. The creepy mood he creates turns into something strange and weird at the end. No matter what sense "Lords of Salem" makes in the end, whether you like it or not, I'll be shocked if you're not effected by it. Rob Zombie really let loose on his fetishes here, I just wish he could finally write an ending that complimented the rest of the journey.
Overall, I think its safe to say that "Lords of Salem" is Zombie's best so far. I hope he can take his strengths and continue to multiply them. I hope he is able to make an ending that can create a story that feels whole. We have not seen Rob Zombie's masterpiece yet, but when we do, I think I'll be in therapy afterward. I can't wait to see what he has in store next.
FINAL GRADE: B