Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Lords of Salem

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Are we sure Rob Zombie made this?

The Lords of Salem – 3 out of 5

I’m surprised to say this but…Rob Zombie actually made a halfway decent film and did so without just recycling horror film clich├ęs and/or outright tone and theme theft.

A skinny girl shitting on the toilet.  He clearly stole this from The Omen.

"Alright, after the morning fart traffic, we'll move onto the
prerequisite prank phone calls and clips from late night shows
here on K-Cliche Morning Zoo Crew Show!"
 The Lords of Salem is about Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a DJ at a radio station in Salem who, one day, receives a mysterious record addressed to her. After giving it a listen, she starts to have visions of some witches of old burned at the stake for being brides of Satan. Soon, the record and the atrocious noise upon its vinyl grooves starts to throw Heidi’s life into a whirlwind as she loses the ability to discern between what’s real and what’s all in her head. Things get worse when it's made apparent that three women in her apartment building seem to have some darkness lurking behind them and may be playing a part in her turmoil.

This movie teaches us the valuable lesson that all old white women are secretly witches...

And will eventually look like they are in a Styx video.

I’m not a fan of Rob Zombie’s films—wait, let me elaborate on that…I’m not a fan of his writing. As a director, I think the man has an amazing eye but his writing always feels recycled, cheap and weak. His horror movies feel less like a new venture into the world of spooky and more like he’s just borrowing (or stealing) themes and plot points from other films. House of 1,000 Corpses is basically Texas Chainsaw Massacre without a chainsaw and The Devil’s Reject is just a story-less mess that's attempting to make a film out of music video sequences. And the less we say about how he destroyed the horror movie icon of Michael Myers, the better…Seriously, Rob! You took a man who with no motive and tons of fun mystery and turned him into a generic serial killer…and then you made a shitty sequel.

In the past, he's stolen themes but in this one, he's just paying homage to horror
classics.  Tell me this doesn't remind you of The Shining.

The Lords of Salem is so well put together that, if it wasn’t for the presence of his wife, I would have easily thought it wasn’t made by him. Unlike his other films, this movie has presence and a tone to it. There was malice lurking in the shadows of each shot.  If felt like Rob was finally using his strengths with his amazing demented eye to make something spooky and unnerving. Tension built around every corner of the film and there was a progression to the story that I’ve never seen in Rob’s writing before. Lords felt like Rob had matured as a film maker and decided to make something beyond an awful cartoon and decided against making a mockery of the genre, like he once did. To put it simply, it felt like he was actually putting effort into it and not half-assing it like he’s done since he started making movies (and starting doing with his music career after his first solo album; I'm sorry, he never recaptured his amazing rock spirit after that one and it sounded like he was phoning it all in).

Deep down, all disc jockeys hate their lives.

Even more shocking was how great Sheri Moon Zombie was as Heidi. While I always found it sweet that Rob put his wife in his films (and gave her tons of lines she didn’t deserve), I always felt this was a double-edged sword because Sheri Moon can’t act to save her life. However, like Rob’s seeming maturity towards the process of storytelling and filmmaking, it seems she evolved too and went away from the annoying scenery chewing she’s done in everything else and made a character that, while still eccentric, felt grounded and real. Watching her slip into madness felt authentic and looked amazing.  Will she have a career that doesn't involve her husband?  Absolutely not but she still was really good in this film.

Dread-locked Kurt Cobain gets ready for Dia de los Muertos.

As surprised as I was by this movie, I still have to be honest and say it wasn’t that great. While it was better than the other junk Zombie squeezed out in-between terrible cover songs, the film still suffers in a lot of places. With all the tension, suspense and chills he brings early in the film, Rob Zombie quickly loses control of the movie and it starts to get silly in the middle of the film as we are treated to a giant ape (or some shit) and a mutated demon midget. All credibility of the spine-chilling atmosphere Zombie has created starts to dissipate and is quickly sucked out of the room in the closing moments of the film when it decides to become one of Rob Zombie’s music videos only, thankfully, without his music (of course, old White Zombie accompanying this scene would have been alright). This aspect really disappointed me because I was so impressed until that point and it only made me feel that someone ELSE wrote the beginning act of the film and Rob came in and said, “I got this,” and immediately took the production to the absurd levels he came to the film game with.

And it's at this exact moment, the film unravels.

Despite how bad the film becomes during the second act, it’s still a great improvement from Rob Zombie’s other works. The Lords of Salem actually has a story, it has a spooky atmosphere and it seems like it is doing a tremendous job of building the terror. Ultimately, the film comes undone at the end but there was actually some effort and potential swirling around during the first half of the film. When you factor this in along side the fact that Sheri Moon Zombie was actually doing a tremendous job in her acting, you have to wonder if the Zombies were taken by pod people and replaced with look-alikes...only Rob was able to escape and finish off his film.

Fun note:  Jeff Daniel Phillips, commonly known as the Geico caveman, is in
this movie...and Rob decides to make him look exactly like him.

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