Film & TV

The Lords of Salem Is Never Suspenseful or Scary

After two Halloween remakes, rock star turned filmmaker Rob Zombie has penned a somber, surprisingly tame tale of witchcraft and possession that may trigger unintended giggles among even his most devoted admirers. Sheri Moon Zombie, the director's wife, stars as Heidi Hawthorne, a Salem, Massachusetts radio DJ who begins hearing voices and having bloody visions after listening to a heavy-metal LP given to her under mysterious circumstances. Her neighbors are three witches descended from a 17th-century coven determined to call forth the Devil, who's looking to find the right woman to give him a son and heir. Zombie takes all of this very seriously, staging flashbacks to unholy ceremonies that feel disturbingly authentic, while surrounding Heidi, a disappointingly timid character, with decrepit, corpulent demons we can see but she cannot. The movie is eerily photographed (by Brandon Trost) but never suspenseful or scary, and events eventually descend into goat-sacrificing silliness. Any fun to be had here lies in spotting the many old-school character actors Zombie has hired, from Bruce Davison and Dee Wallace to Meg Foster and Maria Conchita Alonso, all of whom have faced their fair share of movie monsters over the years — to far more memorable effect.

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Chuck Wilson is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.