A HAUNTING IN SALEM is an Asylum film that stars horror icon Bill Oberst, Jr (Criminal Minds, Scream Queens, and The Retrieval as well countless other film) as a sheriff who relocates to Salem, Mass., with his family — only to discover that the house they’ve moved into is plagued by an ancient curse and haunted by malicious spirits.
When we think of Asylum, we usually think of those fun, albeit low budget and oft time corny mash up creature films, but A HAUNTING IN SALEM was a bit of a surprise.
Like most haunting films it’s a bit predictable but I suppose that’s the fun part of these films – sort of a guilty pleasure. You know, family moves to a new house, someone says off-handed cryptic message about it’s strange past, family sees unexplainable things but ignores it, one spouse freaks out, the other remains unearthly calm while all the cupboard slam around them – and then all hell breaks loose! So when it comes to that formula this film definitely delivers.
This time it’s Bill Oberst who is haunted – as the history of the house dictates. Taking place in Salem and the apparent past of witches being burned or hanged by the original occupant of the house who was the town sheriff. So every sheriff goes insane, kills their family, and then kills themselves – since, you know, the bodies are all buried on the property. (Because where else would they bury the bodies of 19 witches?)
I like Bill Oberst, Jr. as I have known him for years and am a fan of his work, so it was nice surprise to see him in this role. Truthfully, he isn’t a big man so it was a bit hard to picture him as a town sheriff. Also, the actress who played his wife is much younger – and although she was lovely – she almost seemed to young to have a teenage daughter (who seemed almost ready to go to college.) In my honest opinion, they almost appeared to be sisters.
The film also starts off rather slow and there were only a couple of good jump scares. Though I feel like the make up effects could have been a bit better they didn’t distract from the film, and again, it’s Asylum, so in a way it fits into the library of films they already have.
As for the setting, who doesn’t love Salem? It’s very beautiful and quaint…and home to a very rich witch history and culture, so it lends itself to a fun and mysterious environment in which to set a horror film!
Nonetheless, this is a fun film for horror fans. In the end, I would give A HAUNTING IN SALEM a good 6 and a half stars out of 10!
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