The Lords of Salem (2012)
Director: Rob Zombie
Writer: Rob Zombie
Cinematographer: Brandon Trost
by Susan Bartley
It seems as though Rob Zombie's taking cue from M. Knight Shyamalan's trajectory - his early stuff was so great and original that I can’t help but remain hopeful for the next. Then it arrives, I hear how mediocre it is, I eventually check it out, and rest easy that I didn’t spend the theater money (though I still haven’t seen Lady in the Water). The Lords of Salem is a step back in the right direction, but that's like taking the wrong flight to Chicago, ending up in Dallas, walking out of the airport, and being proud I'm a bit closer to home. Lords of Salem is closer to that original Zombie twisted feel, but it's still miles from his first two films.
Sheri Moon Zombie's Heidi Hawthorne is an amazing and unique character, playing a punk rock, sexy, confident woman who has been brainwashed by the sounds of local band, The Lords of Salem’s latest record, causing her to have nightmarish hallucinations. The story contains some great moments, with a return to the elaborate and surreal set design of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, great practical effects and monsters, and a fairly original plot. It's just a weak story.
This film provides a great example of my disdain of psychological, solipsistic thrillers. The sets are great, the make up, the performances, all of that is top notch. The issue is that it’s all told within the decaying mind of Heidi, so although I’m seeing it I keep thinking it's all some hallucination and therefore fake. I guess some maybe some of it might be real, and it’s that very division where I get frustrated. I would have loved if the Lords of Salem corrupted the entire town and Salem descended into a surrealist nightmare of extravagant proportions. It would have taken a much larger budget, but at least I would have been able to appreciate everything as real, rather than questioning whether it’s just another fantasy of Heidi’s. The movie seems inches away from her waking up, realizing it was all a dream, before a witch pops out from under the bed, the film cuts to black, and credits roll. We’re taken on this magnificent and crazy ride and we just never know what to believe and what we shouldn’t. It’s a cop out. It’s easy. So I’ll keep waiting in anxious anticipation that the next Zombie film will go back to his roots, which given his his crowdfunding campaign, I hope and pray is just one film away.
BELOW: As awesome as this scene is, it makes zero sense
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