Cinematic Releases: The Lords of Salem

Rob Zombie returns to his favorite genre with this latest entry, The Lords of Salem. The film is an homage to the surreal films of the seventies and eighties mixed with many apparent nods to the genre classics that inspired Zombie's career as a musician and film director.

The Lords of Salem is not a visceral, gore soaked feature like House of a Thousand Corpses or The Devil's Rejects. Instead, Salem is a film that's foundation is based on creepy scenery, cheap scares, a predictable story, and Sherry Moon's absolute contempt for the art form of acting. At that, it's still slightly enjoyable based on Zombie's unquestionable grasp on stunning visuals and use of color.

The Lords of Salem struck me as an unfinished project that Zombie toiled over and never completely finished. The film is unfocused and has several dynamic thematic shifts throughout. I've felt this before with his work but it's never been this blatantly apparent. Over the course of the movie I realized that Zombie really only cares about satisfying his artistic need to transpose his twisted visions to film. It's not really about moving the plot.

As a whole, The Lords of Salem does not seem like a completed piece of work. Something was missing. Maybe it was the story. Or maybe it was Zombie's selfish manipulation of the plot by denying us any real conclusion. Zombie has the potential to make a great horror film. The man definitely has unique talent that should be put to use. With the right script and a bigger budget, he could deliver something great. House of 1000 Corpses was an eye opening first feature. Ever since, he seems to easily lose focus, drifting in his directorial style. Instead of bashing him, I'll just accept The Lords of Salem as a ninety minute tribute to Zombie's influences.

I'll leave it at that.