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Review: James Crow’s House of Salem

Well, this is one house you don’t want to stay in… and being rich doesn’t protect you from the horrors of the real world. Curse of the Witching Tree‘s James Crow returns with a startling, creepy, twisted new feature film starring Jessica Arterton, Jack Brett Anderson, Liam Kelly, Les Mills, Robert Lowe, Dean Maskell, Andrew-Lee Potts, Pierse Stevens, Anna Nightingale, Yohanna Farrell-Knight, Nalan Burgess and Tony Fadil. In the film, a small group of kidnappers abduct a child and hold him for ransom in an undisclosed, isolated location. Unbeknownst to them, the home they’re hiding in has a ton of dark secrets, and the kidnappers find themselves unwillingly forced into a bloody satanic ritual. With evil entities haunting the halls, the police hot on their trail, and more mysteries surrounding them than a Scooby Doo marathon, the ragtag group of thieves will undoubtedly consider better employment in the future… if they even survive the night. From writer, director, and producer James Crow, House of Salem is an unsettling, throat clenching, crazy-ass thriller that’s releasing on on VOD this January from Wild Eye Releasing.

This film from Last British Dragon was co-produced by Paul Jones and executively produced by Steve Thomas. It features cinematography and editing by James Crow and Sam Creamer. To be honest, I thought House of Salem was going to start off on a very different foot. It began classically, almost like an 80’s babysitting job gone wrong story, before the home invasion began. It’s brutal and the inclusion of the clown masks gave it an extra layer of creepiness. No one likes clowns, right? I equated House of Salem to Don’t Breathe meets House of the Devil meets Home Alone with an extra bucket of blood thrown on top. It’s equal parts crime-drama, supernatural-horror, and a child centered film. Just what the crazy cult wants to do with the child will have you freaked the fuck out. It’s also a ballad of unfortunate events, but I don’t think anyone is going to be rooting for the kidnappers in this one. The only one you’ll want to survive is the youngster and the the female kidnapper who’s just a little rough around the edges. The phrase ‘pay or he does’ is featured prominently in this indie horror film, and it definitely has a double meaning. You’ll have to watch to find out more about that connection.

I have to say that House of Salem had a problem with pacing. It has a few really great horror moments, but the build up and long scenes of talking dampen the mood. Otherwise, this is your typical independent production and you can expect all the usual straight-to-DVD qualities from that market of film. There aren’t any glaring mistakes or cheesy production values, but you can tell this flick wasn’t made on a million bucks. This, of course, is our key demographic at Horror Society, so I don’t have a problem with that. My favorite aspects of House of Salem was the cinematography and set/production design. These two departments coupled together to create some stunning, haunting, macabre visuals that had me nodding my head in approval several times. It was stylized in an almost retro sort of way with odd takes and whimsical props, and it culminated in some really enjoyable scene set-ups among the horror and suspense building story. House of Salem was built to be weird and frightening, and it delivered on that. Throw in above average acting and a grand central location, and this one’s solid. It’s more than worthy of a VOD stream, so consider doing that this January.

Final Score: 6.75 out of 10.

Written by MGDSQUAN

(Senior Editor) MGDSQUAN