Viau’s View/ Scott Viau
Rob Zombie is a filmmaker/musician that’s been known to use elements of the supernatural and the macabre in his work. His latest film, “The Lords of Salem” continues this pattern, but shows something we haven’t seen before: restraint.
Heidi (played by Sherri Moon Zombie, wife of the director) works at an alternative radio station in Salem, Mass. In the mail, she receives a vinyl album by a band calling itself The Lords. Heidi decides to give the record a spin, but doing so cracks open her psyche and she begins to see and dream things, things of the town’s terrible past involving witches. Heidi doesn’t know what’s happening to her, but dangerous people around her do, and the fate of humanity might rest on her.
When “The Lords of Salem” was released in theaters in April, the initial response was not favorable. The film currently holds a 47 percent on Rottentomatoes.com. It could be a lot worse, but so could the movie.
Rob Zombie must be given credit for not going back down the remake route, as he did for “Halloween” and its sequel. He attempted to create something new and original, although there are moments and themes that are similar to “Rosemary’s Baby.” Zombie also didn’t take the easy way by throwing in tons of blood and gore (although there is a bit) to please hardcore fans. Zombie made something I didn’t expect to see from him: an art house horror film. He takes his time in setting up the story and allowing creepy moments to play out slowly throughout the film, leading up to an unnerving finale.
The real horror in “Lords” comes purely from its grotesque imagery. From burning witches to an image of Satan that looks like nothing seen before, “Lords” manages to forgo the carnage in exchange for something much creepier, which is the unknown world that Heidi enters into.
When appearing in Zombie’s first movie, “House of 1,000 Corpses,” Moon Zombie wasn’t a very good actress. She relied purely on her good looks and a very limited amount of charm. But over the years, she’s developed and she’s at her best in “Lords.” But even so, cracks do appear and her old acting style surfaces, even if for a brief second.
“Lords” also boasts the presence of two horror icons: Dee Wallace Stone, who appeared in “The Howling” and Patricia Quinn, best known for her work as Magenta in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” They both turn in unsettling performances.
I actually can’t remember the last time a movie shook me as much as “Lords” did. It has something that’s been sorely lacking in the horror genre lately, which is to say, atmosphere. Any movie can make someone jump by having a character pop up on screen, but “Lords” manages to get under your skin. Viewers may feel almost dirty after having watched it. At any rate, it’s Zombie’s best film to date. “The Lords of Salem” is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.