Any horror film that involves an old spooky house and a tagline of ‘based on true events’ gets my interest, because films like these just don’t come around often. The last one I remember well, is the original Amityville Horror, which did terrify me.
A Haunting in Salem, a film that was released straight to DVD in October 2011 and starring Bill Oberst Jr, promised to deliver just that, although my boyfriend warned me that it had received bad reviews. None the less, I still had to watch it and I’m glad that I did, although it won’t be memorable and its not in the same league as Amityville.
Based on True Events?
Before writing up my review, I scoured Google looking for information about this and the best that I can come up with is that it’s loosely based on the plot of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were 19 men and women were hung to death and that’s about it. Nothing specific, but if I’m to be corrected, please let me know.
The history of witchcraft has fascinated me ever since I was told that, supposedly, I’m a descendent of Old Chattox (Anne Whittle) an unfortunate woman who was caught up in the Lancashire Witch Trials (Pendle Hill Witches & Samlesbury Witches) of 1612. Eleven persons were hanged, ten of them at Lancaster and one at York. I would love to do a family tree, but a lack of information or family secrets prevents me from doing research.
A Haunting in Salem Review
Don’t you just hate it when someone has planted a seed in your head and then the film starts and it looks tacky? That’s what I thought about the smoke rising up from the bath tub when the son of a previous Sherriff is brutally drowned by someone or some thing. It wasn’t hard to guess that it was a ghost of a witch that had killed him and then his wife. The poor Sherriff ends up being hurled through a third story window, head first to his death and I have to admit that the opener certainly reeled me in.
I enjoyed A Haunting in Salem although I doubt I’ll watch it again. The trouble with this film is that it had no plot and to me a film is seriously lacking if you don’t’ have to guess at what’s going on or who is doing what. They say that the old Hammer Horror films were notorious for their unrealistic colour of blood, at least it was red. There were moments in the film where I had to cringe and get the cushion ready to hide behind as I watched a woman put a large pan of water on the stove to boil and then she lowered her head into it. I love it when films make me cringe like this.
What made this film watchable was two things. The acting and the wonderful old wooden house with a massive stairway leading to lots of rooms. The house is a 200yr old mansion situated in Pasadena, CA and I would love to live in a character house like this one providing it isn’t haunted.
As mentioned, the acting talent really carried this film and deserves special mention.
Bill Oberst Jr plays the Sheriff who along with his wife, Carrie (Courtney Abbiati) take up residency in the old mansion. On screen their partnership comes across as believable and both actors played their characters very well. At one point, I thought that the Sheriff had become possessed when he surprised his wife with coming on to her. They’ve obviously not had it for a while so she proceeds to take a shower, but doesn’t have one as she finds a full tooth matted in hair that has clogged up the plug hole. There was no storyline to follow on from this, so not sure why the director included it.
Full acting marks have to go to Jenna Stone who plays Ali their daughter. She’s convincingly freaked out when Salem19 keeps trying to communicate with her via the laptop. She’s eventually possessed by a witch and her acting throughout the film should be highly commended.
Finally, this film is worth a watch as there a few scares and the odd scene made me jump, but don’t expect a classic horror movie until the big studios get some courage to finance one.