One thing about Rob Zombie as a director is that he’s tasked with finishing one of his many nonsensical horror films with Sheri Moon as the lead. Sheri Moon is not an actress by any definition. She’s mostly suited for silent supporting roles with someone else doing the heavy lifting. Hence why she’s so much fun in “The Devil’s Rejects.” Sid Haig and Bill Moseley are such excellent actors, Moon doesn’t have to do much but work off them. With “Lords of Salem,” Zombie seems to realize Moon can’t carry a movie on her own, so he once again gives Moon a great supporting cast to work off of. When that safety net is gone, Moon mostly plays her role without much dialogue or heavy emoting, as Zombie fills in her bad performance with a ton of surrealism.
“Lords of Salem” is once again Zombie refusing to build his own style within the horror genre. So for ninety minutes he basically just copies Satanic imagery and wide shots from Kubrick and Ken Russell, all for a premise that cribs from “Rosemary’s Baby.” The entirety of “Lords of Salem” feels like an amateur film student paying tribute to Kubrick and Russell without carving out his own niche. It’s been five films and we still have no idea what Zombie’s cinematic style is. So far, he’s copied everyone from Peckingpah to Hooper, and now works even harder to mimic Kubrick and Russell to unfold a convoluted and self-indulgent artsy fartsy horror tale.
Oddly enough he once again fills the screen with a slew of iconic and seasoned character actors and foists Moon on us as the lead in a tale that borrows from Roman Polanski’s classic satanic film. Moon plays Heidi, a recovering drug addict who hosts a hit rock show with two of her friends in Salem. When the trio receive an odd music record from an enigmatic rock band named the Lords of Salem, Heidi begins being haunted by the music and eventually realizes she’s being possessed. Cursed with horrible nightmares, and reality shifting visions, she struggles to figure out what her delusions mean. All the while Bruce Davison seems to be doing an impression of Jeff Bridges, as a researcher who finds the music from Lords of Salem unusual and begins unraveling a larger conspiracy that involves Heidi and her past.
Once again Zombie has little to no faith in Moon, so he stuffs her in the background in favor of a ton of flashbacks, and a ton of exposition, all of which are clunky, and terribly written. It’s all nothing but poorly staged lead up to the big centerpiece where we’re told what we figure out in the first twenty minutes. Heidi is destined to give birth to the son of Satan for a witch coven, and she can’t fight it. Most of the film is handed off to folks like Meg Foster and Dee Wallace, all of whom are given carte blanche to chew the scenery and do the work for Moon, who really just cries, stumbles around sleepy eyed, and little else. “Lords of Salem” is a nonsensical and poorly constructed take on “Rosemary’s Baby,” that tries desperately to shock and offend, and succeeds only in being brutally boring. Zombie has yet to show his love for horror can muster up a good film.