Posted September 29, 2018 by Chris Hick in Film Reviews

House of Salem (2016) DVD Review


A new horror film by Left Films, House of Salem (2016) inserts plenty of tropes from other films from the more satanic Dennis Wheatley, or even Ben Wheatley (Kill List, 2011) type of horror with slasher, home invasion and ghost stories thrown in for good measure. The big failure in the film is the acting which spoils some of the more positive aspects. It begins with a home invasion. A babysitter is putting 12-year-old Josh to bed and reads him a story. Josh is a kid who appears to be on the spectrum and suffers from nightmares about his past (“a special kid” in his own words). It later transpires that Josh is being brought up by his aunt and uncle after his parents and brother were killed in a house fire. While Josh is in bed he thinks there is something or someone in the closet. There is also something else odd about actor Liam Kelly as Josh, as he seems to be too old to play this character. All of a sudden Josh’s room appears to be filled with several figures in papier-mache clown masks. They take Josh and injure the babysitter. So it would appear that this is not a figment of Josh’s imagination as we first thought. What appear to be the boy’s aunt and uncle turn up at home to find that Josh is missing and the babysitter injured on the kitchen floor.

Josh wakes up in a country home that has been rented by an unknown client who had ordered the boy’s kidnapping for an apparent ransom. The boy is tied to a bed with a sheep mask over his face, which in part replicates St. Peter, his cuddly toy lamb. He is threatened by the gang, although slowly the girl, 16-year-old Nancy (Jessica Arteton) bonds with the boy and even tries to protect him. We also learn that Nancy is the surrogate daughter to Jacob, the leader of this band of misfit kidnappers. Josh sees the bloody ghost of his brother in a closet and voices begin to re-emerge in his head.

Symbols of an eye appear in the house, carved on trees and even scratched onto an old VHS player they find after one of the other kidnappers, Jack begins to show support for Nancy when they suspect that something else even more sinister than childnapping is at play here. They discover videotapes that seem to show chosen children that have been used and abused before their throats being cut in a sacrifice with the real clients being a satanic cult that begin to lay siege to the house.

Although this is the second feature for director, James Crow following another low budget horror effort, Curse of the Witching Tree (2015), he also has made plenty of short films under his belt. However, nearly all the acting is pretty awful and both the plot and film in general could have benefited from some tighter editing, while the end result seems a bit sloppy with several holes in the script. The low budget does not excuse this, as there are plenty of low budget quality films that are far superior to some mainstream big budget efforts. Also, what is it with the couple of the stock heavies that seem to resemble Tommy Robinson?

Chris Hick

Chris Hick