Written and Directed by Rob Zombie.
After the breathtaking movie that was The Devil’s Rejects I decided to continue the Rob Zombie streak. Halloween (the first one) was an interesting new take on the myth of Michael Myers and The Devil’s Rejects is a movie that will be staying with me for a long time so I moved on to the next film on my list by Zombie; The Lords of Salem.
The story focuses on a radio DJ who receives a strange package in the mail that contains a record with strange music on it. The music begins to slowly impact the DJ, Heidi, in strange and freaky ways. Salem is always an interesting setting for a film about Witches. The history always adds another layer to the story itself and Zombie takes full advantage of that, stretching back the story to the very beginning of the Salem Witch trials. Strange and weirdly staggered sometimes, the story gets lost in the mesmerizing and freaky dream sequences. There are certain plot points that are a bit confusing and not explored as much (it seems like scenes were cut showing important moments from the past). Heidi’s fleshed out perfectly and we follow her long enough before the strange things begin that we care about her, but every other character isn’t as fleshed out. A sense of dread creeps up on you through the film and it peaks at the finale which was both strange and maddening, confusing and freaky, but glorious.
The acting, again, is top notch when the character gets enough time to really stretch their legs. Sheri Moon Zombie proves once again she can be a leading lady with another amazing performance. Unlike her character, Baby in The Devil’s Rejects, Heidi is a normal person like you or me that is thrust in to the supernatural and she plays that with ease, at moments being the scared and confused woman and at others being the spellbound Witch Heidi was slowly becoming. Bruce Davidson plays the role of the knowledgeable older man, Matthias, with a sad relatability. He’s an old man who becomes curious about The Lords of Salem and accidentally is thrust in to their world. You actually feel for him as he stumbles in to it and you know that he is doomed from the start and all you can do is watch.
The music of the film carries a haunting melody. The song that plays through the Lords of Salem makes you feel just as weird as the characters as it plays on old and rudimentary strings that creep through the skin. Watching this at night I found the moments where I was legitimately freaked out by the song. The frame itself is beautiful, using colors to illuminate Heidi with bright colors during the dream sequences that make those moments seem even more surreal. Zombie directs the frames, proving again his style molds to the story he’s telling. From the first moment we meet Heidi while following her daily routine down to the last detail, to the strange events that begin to occur to her, it all feels close and intimate and Zombie uses the story and screen to show the themes of the feminine identity and sexuality. These women were suppressed by men and Zombie makes sure to always show more of them, giving all the females the spotlight.
The Lords of Salem isn’t as good as The Devil’s Rejects by any means, with a story that gets a little confusing at times and a lack of memorable characters. But its redeemable features; beautiful imagery and fantastic performances from Zombie, the Witches, and Davidson make this film well worth the watch if you’re a fan of Zombie’s other films.
Have you seen The Lords of Salem? How does it compare to Zombie’s other films, for you?
I’ll see you all soon for the next review, Rob Zombie’s 31!