Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'The Lords of Salem' (2012)
Rob, lay off the brown acid...
Jesus Christ, Rob. Was that real crack featured in this movie? I need to understand what the fuck you were on.
Here's the thing. A lot of people complained about this movie being absolute trash. It did have its problems, but it wasn't half bad. Most of my complaints are in singular scenes that were poorly executed, but not the over all story or cinematography.
It does go off the rails at the end. The end is comparable to Beyond the Black Rainbow. It's freaky as hell, like an esoteric nightmare, and likely to produce a bad flashback.
The over all feel of the movie was pretty solid. The atmosphere was on point, and they wasted no efforts on set design and camera effects. They leaned heavily on practical FX which I deeply appreciate. This did lead to one scene with practical FX so bad they were cringe worthy. It was like something out of Troma Studios. That's okay for the Toxic Avenger, but not okay if you're trying to do serious horror.
The acting was surprisingly good. I've only ever seen Sheri Moon Zombie play Baby in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects. Both of those roles were ridiculously over the top, so it's hard to judge her acting capacity. And again, save one scene that was down right cringe worthy, she did a really solid job.
There's a lot not to like about this movie, but over all it was worth the time I invested into watching it. I guess, I can only recommend this movie to hardcore horror heads. I almost want to consider it required viewing just because it's kind of a fresh re-visitation of the 1960-70s cult horror that our culture is missing. Honestly, I feel Zombie was onto something here. Maybe this wasn't quite it, but he should definitely keep exploring. Fuck the haters.
There's nothing new about the idea that the witches of the Salem witch trials were real witches. Very recently I reviewed The Autopsy of Jane Doe which delved into the same concept. What sets The Lords of Salem apart from modern day takes on witchcraft, is its exploration of the classic horror approach to fear and sensation. There are no jump scares, no really gory blood factories, none of that jerky or shaky motion nonsense. Rather, there's just a slow build of tension, leading to a sense of helplessness, followed by a downward spiral into madness. This movie uses imagery and pace perfectly.
The story is really about the female lead (played by Sheri) being seduced by a coven of witches because she turns out to be the descendant of the Reverend Jonathan Hawthorn. That's the guy responsible for the Salem witch trials, for the hoes at home. She's a former addict, which makes her particularly susceptible to them, and this is apparently a part of a curse placed upon her family by the original witches of Salem a.k.a The Lords of Salem. Bound in fate, the movie simply follows her seduction and personal decay, the purpose being for her to give birth to the antichrist... I think? The ending is a little fuzzy. She spits out a fucking demonic starfish, for fuck sake!
The major cringe worthy moments are the only detractors from this movie. There's a scene when the female lead communes with the baby she is destine to birth. The rubber mutant baby costume is laughable at best; a fucking outright embarrassment to the rest of the movie is more accurate. Sheri's acting during this scene is the only place she truly falters, but who could blame her, I couldn't take that scene seriously either.
Then there was the blowjob rape scene. If it was conducted as a part of the female lead's corruption, that would have been fine. However, a priest violently assaulting and mouth fucking the female lead is only fit for trash grind house and the rest of this movie was very much above it. The only reason to stoop to that level is to be intentionally provocative, but it just doesn't fucking impress me.
The ending is a jumble of visual takes on the corruption of the female lead. It seems to represent her giving in to the taboos of typical Anglo Christian sin. For the most part it's fine, but some of it does kinda come off like a silly metal video, rife with demonic visual scrambles.
Over all, most of its problems are forgivable and the movie it's self not that bad.