Cinema Recall Terror Tuesday: ‘House of Salem’ Review

House of Salem is a 2016 supernatural horror film about a routine kidnapping of a young boy by a group of thieves.  While they await to hear back from the clients who hired them, the house they decided to wait in hosts residents even more dangerous than them.

The movie begins with Josh(Liam Kelly) being tucked in by his babysitter (Nalan Burguss) whom I thought was his mother. Josh begins hearing a voice telling him to get out and this is when people in masks break in and take him away. It’s unclear as to why at first but it’s established early on that Nancy (Jessica Arterton) doesn’t mean the kid any real harm. She in fact is the only one who ever talks to him at all in this feature.

The rest of the kidnapping team involve the usual tropes, including Mick (Robert Lowe) and Craig (Dean Maskell), who act as the main muscle behind leader Jacob (Leslie Mills). The only other person in this team is Jack (Jack Brett Anderson), who is there because Nancy has to have a male co-star her own age, right. I am not sure on how long these kidnappers have known each other for. Have they had other jobs before this, are they friends? I really don’t know. They seemed to have a past, but none of them have much chemistry with each other. They all seem to be people who were put together to do this one job.  Even the moments when Jack and Nancy get together feels like two strangers who are asked to pair up on a project as work. Yeah they can give small talk here and there, but nothing else would let me know they know each other at all  I wish this movie would have told me who this team was first before they even took on the kidnapping.

Before Josh is taken and is brought to the house. There is a scene that shows he has the ability to communicate with the dead or spirits of some kind. The reveal of the kid’s talents was a bit too quick and was something I think could have been saved for later. Within the first seven minutes of when the movie begins, we know that the kid can talk to ghosts and than he is kidnapped. True, it never says right out that it is a ghost and it could be a voice in his head.  Having that element be exposed before the kidnapping felt out of place for me, as is the moment when Nancy is revealed to be the nice person of this group right away. Now, I am glad that the the movie does hold back the main reason of why Jacob put this team together and what his true intentions are. But I knew way too many things in the first ten minutes, things that I could have waited on. There is even a scene when the parents come back to the house after Josh is taken that should have waited towards the middle of the movie.

Since it was revealed that Nancy is a nice person, I never felt in danger for Josh. I thought maybe since Josh could communicate with spirits he would use them to get revenge on those that took him. He doesn’t want any harm to come to Nancy but the ghosts don’t listen and so he has to try and stop them.

After it’s revealed of why the kid is brought to the house, the movie does take on a good sinister tone and I liked that section of the movie very much. I just had a hard time taking the uninvited guests seriously. They reminded me of the main baddies from the game Night Trap. I almost grabbed my game controller and started acting like I was trapping them while I was watching it.

The sound design specifically when it comes to dialog is something that took me out of the story. At times it felt a little muted when I wanted to hear characters speak. The look of the film was quite nice and cinematographers Sean Creamer and director James Crow did a really good job with the colors and the visuals in this movie.

House of Salem does have a good credit sequence and I’m all for movies that have this because it does help establish a good tone for what I’m about to watch. I just had issues on how certain plot elements were revealed.

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Cinema Recall Terror Tuesday: ‘House of Salem’ Review

Movie description: House of Salem is a 2016 supernatural horror film about a routine kidnapping of a young boy by a group of thieves.  While they await to hear back from the clients who hired them, the house they decided to wait in hosts residents even more dangerous than them.

Director(s): James Crow

Actor(s): Jessica Arterton, Jack Brett Anderson, Liam Kelly

Genre: Horror

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