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Review: House of Salem, a Supernatural Thriller With a ‘Wicker Man’ Vibe

Review: House of Salem, a Supernatural Thriller With a 'Wicker Man' Vibe

Imagine if Danny in the Shining didn’t talk to his finger but instead a stuffed autistic lamb called St. Peter. Now imagine if he were kidnapped by clowns with Londoner accents. Throw in a secret society and trigger happy crooks and you get House of Salem, a supernatural thriller with a creepy Wicker Man vibe.

The makers of House of Salem know how to fill screen space well and each frame appears to have been well thought out in a much less amateurish manner than you’d expect from a first time low budget British horror.

The best looking scenes involve high contrast light and shadow in rooms with muted colours. A red, white and black palette is often used. One character wears a fragmented, faded Union Jack and the Bayeux Tapestry decorates the house walls. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but I saw this as a possible reflection of Britain’s current state.

House of Salem 1

The filmmakers manage to keep the unfolding mystery interesting while building up a slow burn sense of unease. However they fail to create any real tension. There are several unsuccessful attempts at jump scares despite the best efforts of a competent sound designer. The premise of a kidnapped child offers great potential for suspense but unfortunately this is wasted.

The actors do a fine job and those behind the camera are inventive enough. The main issue of the script. Awkwardly forced expository dialogue and loose pacing weaken any sense of threat and turn scares into lulls.

The editing also suffers from the kind of ever-so-slightly overlong shots that you’d expect from someone fresh out of film school. Despite these flaws there are plenty of “oh blimey!” moments to keep British horror fans hooked till the credits roll.