Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Lords of Salem

Description from Netflix:
Soon after rock DJ Heidi airs a mysterious album she received on vinyl, the locals start clamoring to hear more from the Lords of Salem.  But the group’s otherworldly sounds have a strange effect on everyone, including Heidi.

Notable actors:
Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Dee Wallace, Meg Foster, Ken Foree, Richard Fancy

Heidi's radio show is beyond terrible, by the way

My thoughts:
I would like to start off by saying that I don’t really have a problem with Rob Zombie.  I don’t know that I’ve really loved any of his films, but I’ve enjoyed all of them.  So, while I’m far from being a Rob Zombie superfan, I do tend to like his films.    
To watch Rob Zombie films is to know that Sheri Moon Zombie is going to be involved.  I don’t necessarily have a huge problem with her, either.  She’s not the best actress in the world, but she’s far from the worst.  If given a bit part, she’s fine.

What?  Friends dance to "Venus in Furs" in the dark.

Sadly, she is not relegated to “bit part” status here.  As the main character, she’s expected to carry the movie, and she is not nearly talented enough to do that.  This is a slow-paced movie, and it requires a magnetizing presence to drive the movie.  Moon Zombie is a lot of things, but “magnetizing presence” is not one of them.

However, she's a tremendous goat-rider

If that were the only problem with this film, I could easily overlook it.  However, that is not the case.

Some of the scenes – especially when they flash back to the original witches in Salem – look terrible.  The scenery looked cheap.  The witches danced and chanted and screamed like they were in a bad stage production of Macbeth.  With more nudity.  Oh man.  So much nudity.  So much terrible, terrible nudity.

Toil and trouble, indeed

Other scenes were downright comical.  I can’t say too much without getting into spoiler territory, but there was a scene in the last 20 minutes that made me laugh out loud.  And there was no way Zombie was going for laughs.

All that being said, my main problem lay with the stakes of the movie.  I wasn’t quite sure just how terrible things would be if the witches accomplished their mission.  Their ultimate plan was to bring Satan into the world, which seems like a perfectly reasonable mission for a group of ancient witches to have.
But what happens next?  Is the entire fate of the world at stake, or just the town of Salem?  We’re never really told.  I suppose it’s safe to assume that the rise of Satan will portend the end of the world, but that’s a pretty large jump.  After all, the existence of Satan acknowledges the existence of God, and I’m pretty sure God would have some kind of say in whether the world ends or not.  It wouldn’t be quite as simple as playing a record and watching the world go to hell.
(It’s worth noting that Satan looked like a man in a bad gorilla suit.  That amused me greatly.  It was like Zombie found the suit used in Rosemary’s Baby, dusted it off, shrugged his shoulders and said, “Good enough.”  Which, honestly, wouldn’t surprise me a bit.)

I didn’t hate the entire movie.  There were some really interesting scenes.  I really loved the recurring hallway scenes.  There’s one towards the end, with Heidi being pushed in a wheelchair, that was particularly great.

I also thought the concept was pretty cool.  Music taken directly from the diary of Nathaniel Hawthorne that put all direct descendents of the original Salem witches into a trance, and helped to bring about the rise of Satan.  And that song was pretty creepy.  A dark, heavy, dirge-like song that can easily get stuck in your head.
It was a pretty simple plot, which seemed like the way to go.  However, as I mentioned previously, this kind of movie needed a stronger lead actress. 

There were parts of this movie I liked.  Some creepy images.  Some decent scenes.  There’s a scene near the end that is absolutely bonkers, and I enjoyed that.  But, for the most part, this was just kind of a mess.  I think Rob Zombie has a good eye for movie making, but is not necessarily a good movie maker.

Rating: 2/5

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