Friday, September 6, 2013

Film Review: The Lords of Salem (2012)

The Lords of Salem (Review)
United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a disturbingly elegant horror film with a great story, creepy atmosphere, and disturbing visuals."

Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio DJ in Salem, Massachusetts, plays a record she received as a gift -- a mysterious gift from the a local band named The Lords of Salem. After playing the record multiple times, Heidi begins to experience disturbing visions...

The Lords of Salem is a story-heavy, satanic horror film. The story follows Heidi over a week as she has disturbing visions after playing the record; her visions become more vivid over the course of the week, and the witches of Salem may have returned. Meanwhile, author Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison) tracks the record, which leads him into the history of the witches of Salem -- a particular coven of witches that may be searching for vengeance. For a horror film, it offers a lot of information to absorb, and continues to do so until the end. The ending is bizzare -- filled with creepy, disturbing visuals, strong symbolism, and a pinch of ambiguity.

The Lords of Salem is a slow-burning, atmospheric horror film. The main focus is the story, which is interesting and creative. The horror mostly built from its haunting atmosphere -- an atmosphere that is developed from the superb cinematography, creepy music, and disturbing visuals. Those looking for more traditional, straight-forwards horror will be glad to find quite a few jolting jump-scares; enough jump-scares to keep contemporary horror fans awake and frightened, and conservative enough to avoid being a gimmicky jump-scare gallery. I really thought the film was genuinely frightening; the focus on atmosphere and tension is a breath of fresh air nowadays, and the jump-scares are actually shocking enough to conjure a jump most of the time. One of the issues I had was with the story; there are a few scenes that weren't necessary at all, and some scenes that could've benefited from more information/explanation; at least for a tighter, more informative experience.

Sheri Moon Zombie is mediocre as the lead; she occasionally excels, but most of the time, Mrs. Zombie's dialogue is delivered unnaturally and blandly; her performance gives the film an amateurish vibe. Fortunately, the great supporting cast, well, supports the film. The cinematography is superb; the film is beautifully shot as it captures the magnificent set-design and mesmerizing lighting. The music is perfect for the film, setting an ominous, creepy tone from beginning to end. The cinematography and the music compliment each other well to create a chilling, immersive atmosphere. Rob Zombie's direction is great, really showing a filmmaker making progress; but, he should really consider casting someone other than his wife.

Overall, The Lords of Salem is a great horror film -- a disturbingly elegant horror film with a great story, creepy atmosphere, and disturbing visuals. The lead is mediocre, yet competent enough, and some tighter writing would've been beneficial, though. Like Only God Forgives, this is a film you'll either love or hate; and, like Only God Forgives, I tend to be leaning towards love in this case.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, excessive full nudity and sexuality. (no sex scenes, though.)

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