Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Lords of Salem

Chances are that most of you reading this will not be able to see this movie until it comes out on DVD or VOD. It is currently showing in 300 theaters nationwide and luckily it was showing at one of my local theaters. Rob Zombie has made his first "true" horror movie in that this movie frightens you to the core from beginning to end. This is a disturbing movie on every level and was just what the horror genre needed at this time. There are no happy endings in this movie just bleakness and despair.

The summaries of this movie online have been fucking atrocious. The real story of the movie follows Heidi, a local radio personality and recovering drug addict. She is an eclectic, upbeat young woman that lives in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. Her story is inter-cut with flashbacks of the Salem Witch trials and the deaths of a particular coven of witches. One day a package is delivered to the radio station containing a record addressed to Heidi, and oddly enough she is the only person able to get the record to play. The record is a looped track of five notes and it puts Heidi into a trance every time she listens to it. Soon she begins to experience strange visions where the lines of reality and fiction begin to blur.

There is no upbeat or happy portion to this movie. A crushing sense of dread invades every image in this movie and it never lets up. Rob Zombie doesn't allow any of his characters to have a happy ending and you can tell this is going to happen pretty early on in the movie when all sense of hope is lost for our main character. This is gorgeous and Zombie took enough care to make sure that no scene was neglected, even the most mundane of scenes. The one thing I will be critical of was the appearance of Satan, he looks fucking goofy. He is only in the movie for a few seconds but it really throws you for a loop and makes you almost laugh out loud.  

Zombie's writing ability has definitely taken a leap forward in The Lords of Salem. His earlier movies were very rough around the edges with simple dialogue, wonky performances, and limited action. The story is much more complex than in any of his previous four features. With the subplot of addiction and not knowing if Heidi is experiencing visions due to her past addiction or if she is truly being sought out by Satan and the coven of witches. Sherri Moon Zombie really upped her game in this movie and shows that she can absolutely carry a movie. She is able to switch tone on the fly and is a captivating presence. Ken Foree, of Dawn of the Dead fame, shows up for good measure. The rest of the cast is comprised of actors and actresses of horror classics.

I know that most people will not like this movie and I absolutely respect their opinion. The uncomfortable nudity in this movie would be enough to turn most people away. most people want a central hero that has a chance to overcome their situation, in The Lords of Salem there is no hope. When I saw this movie at least 10 people walked out by the halfway point. You have to also keep in mind that the imagery get progressively weirder and more grotesque as the movie goes on. Some of the things you see will make you feel uncomfortable. Just power through these moments and you will be rewarded with one of the most unique horror movies to come about in some time.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart. The Lords of Salem is brutally depressing and features a fresh take on a disturbing event from our country's past. Under the watchful eye of Rob Zombie, this is one of the most beautifully shot horror movies of the last decade and hearkens back to the classic works of the likes of Dario Argento. I personally recommend that you see this movie if it is playing in a theater near you.

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