A Haunting in Salem

A Haunting in Salem (2011)

Bill Oberst, Jr, Jenna Stone, Carey Van Dyke
Dir: Shane Van Dyke

When I originally pulled this movie up, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. To begin with, movies that are "based on true events" tend to be hit or miss. Not because of story inaccuracies (probably the dumbest of all arguments for anything that's not a documentary), but because sometimes they just go too damn far. That being said, I knew the only way to find out which side of the spectrum this one fell on was to buckle down and do the damn thing...and so the damn thing was done.

A Haunting in Salem is a suspense horror story based on true events (See: that poster to the left) about a new to town sheriff who moves his family into the largest, creepiest house on the market. Unbeknownst to the family, 50 years ago, the previous occupants of the dark pad were all murdered one night by a vengeful spirit that still haunts to this day.
The sheriff.

What I liked: First off, one thing I will give this movie is I liked the atmosphere. Scary houses are always cool by default and the only thing that can ruin the concept is trying too hard. Luckily in this instance, they didn't. I also liked that I got the "where do I know this guy from?" feeling when I saw the name Bill Oberst, Jr. After a little IMDb sleuthing, I found he did a few episodes of "1000 Ways To Die", which is one of the few things I actually kind of like from Spike TV. Kudos to you, good sir. And on that note, the fun part...

What I didn't like: The first minutes of the movie involves a man being randomly drowned in the bathtub by an unknown intruder. I can deal with this as it's a horror and terrible things happen. Can someone explain to me, though, why as soon as his face hits the water, the screen is covered in unnecessary cg steam? I'm just saying for an opening scene, it really killed the overall feel of the situation, but I will admit it does get subjectively better as you push forward through the movie...

And I thought I had a bad day...

...and push you will have to since A Haunting in Salem could be considered a little too slow-paced, even for a haunting type movie. I would even feel hard-pressed to find a specific scene that kept me at the edge of my seat or with such suspense I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. By all means this wasn't a terrible experience, but the lower side of average.

In a nutshell: A Haunting in Salem is a poor man's A Haunting in Connecticut. Yeah, I said it. Granted they're not exactly the same, but it's basically like The Descent vs. The Cave in this situation. Wouldn't outright say one was better than the other as they were both somewhat boring, but if you want something that will keep you interested, just stick with Connecticut. If you're tired of Virginia Madsen movies or just want something a little bit different, then Salem might be worth your time.

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