Movie Review: “The Lords of Salem” (2013)

lords-of-salem

Rob Zombie (better known for his band White Zombie than for his Halloween remakes) is back at the business of making movies with The Lords of Salem, a movie about Satanists, witches who like to get naked, and the Devil’s music, with a little Rosemary’s Baby thrown in there.

I wanted to like this movie. It takes place in Salem, famous for its 17th century witch trials (and still capitalizing on this through museums, witchy gift shops, and palm readers on every corner). It has a punk heroine with blonde dreadlocks. It’s filled with strange, creepy imagery and eerie music. But there’s a difference between being artistic and being confusing, and Rob Zombie misses the mark there.

Heidi is a DJ at a local rock station in Salem (which we never really get to see… makes me wish they’d shot on location). When a record filled with disturbing music appears, they play it on the radio, though it seems to put all the women in town in a trance, and it gives Heidi vivid hallucinations of a coven of witches from the 1600s who liked to strip and dance around a fire. Heidi’s character is botched by the lackluster script, Sheri Moon Zombie’s inability to show more than one facial expression, and the unsure way she delivers all her lines, as though she, too, can’t believe the stupidity of the script.

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A warning for those who haven’t seen the movie: here there be spoilers.

After a series of nonsensical scenes meant only to provide disturbing images to the viewer, and some trippy episodes that make you feel as though you’re on some psychedelic drugs, Heidi finds herself at the mercy of the witches (reincarnated in the form of her landlady and her tea-loving spinster friends). She is raped not only by a Satanist priest (orally, which begs the question: why doesn’t she just bite down?) but also by some butt-ugly gnome thing that I believe is the Devil. As to the latter, I can only assume that’s what was happening, since the scene shows her holding two of the gnome thing’s tentacles and shaking around. After what is perhaps the strangest rape scene in any movie ever, Heidi gives birth to a squid-baby that I assume will grow up to be Cthulhu. Or the Antichrist.

After more nonsensical imagery, we see Heidi triumphant over a pile of bodies that were once the hypnotized women of Salem. Over the end credits, we learn that she is officially missing. Then we see her playing with her dog. I’m… still not totally sure what that’s all about.

Aside for some of the interesting visuals, the only real redeeming factor of this movie was the effective music. The few droning notes of the Devil’s music is perfectly dark and demonic. Give it a listen and try not to creep yourself out too much. Unfortunately, the wonderfully macabre score was not enough to save the movie.

All I can say to Rob Zombie is: Go back to making music.

FINAL VERDICT

Plot: 3 out of 10 squid babies

Acting: 4 out of 10 squid babies

Visuals: 8 out of 10 squid babies

Music: 9 out of 10 squid babies

Script: 2 out of 10 squid babies

Scare Factor: 6 out of 10 squid babies

Overall: 5 out of 10 squid babies

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