British film has a tradition of great gangster films such as GET CARTER and THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, And as the home of Hammer and Amicus among so many others, it also has a tradition of brilliant horror films. In HOUSE OF SALEM, writer/director James Crow (BLACK CREEK) brings the two together to create an effective thriller.
Jacob (Les Mills NIGHTMARE ON 34TH STREET) and his crew have what seems like an easy job. Grab 12-year-old Josh (Liam Kelly), get to the safe house and demand the ransom. But things don’t always go as planned. Hearing that the babysitter they know they left alive has been killed is their first clue.
Jacob’s adoptive daughter Anna (Jessica Arterton) begins to bond with Josh and notices strange goings-on. Soon the car’s tires have been slashed, the phone lines are cut and it’s clear the gangsters have been set up. With suspicions and hidden agendas playing out among them, mysterious robed cultists begin appearing. Cultists who are very deadly with their scythes.
HOUSE OF SALEM starts off as a gangster film and does a convincing job of it. The gang of hard men with a couple of less brutal but useful accomplices pull off a kidnapping and lay low waiting for the ransom. It’s only after the babysitter meets her fate that we realize something is up. And it’s a bit after that we realize the film is heading into supernatural territory.
Then it finishes as a full-on horror film, pulling out the stops and piling on the shocks. Considering the plot that involves sacrificing children to Satan, there’s going to be a few good shocks. Things do get a little confusing near the end but given the final scene that may be intentional.
Crow has been something of a one-man industry with a long list of shorts leading up to his first feature, 2015’s CURSE OF THE WITCHING TREE. He’s completed four features since and has two more listed as in pre-production. If he can keep the quality at this level he’s going to be a force in the genre.
HOUSE OF SALEM is available on VOD from Wild Eye Releasing.