Firstly, I do like the mixing of genre in this film. ‘The Vault’ (2017) has shown in the past how mixing horror with a crime thriller can be jarring and is difficult to get right; however, this film has a weird atmosphere from the start. It doesn’t seem to just hop from one genre to the other, but rather keeps them both consistent so it doesn’t feel like all the supernatural elements are coming out of nowhere. Writer/director James Crow clearly knew what type of film he wanted this to be.
Nevertheless, I still found it difficult to enjoy the film overall. None of the performances particularly stood out as being good; although Jessica Arterton’s debut was possibly the best out of them, she didn’t have a lot of competition. Andrew Lee Potts, best known for ‘Primeval’ (2007), also makes an appearance but gets barely any screen time. I would have liked to have seen more of his character as Josh’s guardian Mr Downing as well as Anna Nightingale who plays Mrs Downing. They had a slightly over-the-top ominous vibe, but they at least had the potential to be entertaining because of it.
Despite being unique in its mix of genres, ‘House of Salem’ does become infuriatingly cliché in its final moments. In the last scene, you can see what’s coming before it even happens, so I think a different ending could have improved it in my opinion. It generally managed to avoid clichés for the rest of the film, and the story itself doesn’t feel overdone, so it just makes the last scene stand out even more for it.
Overall, it’s clear that James Crow made a good effort with this film. However, it’s unfortunately let down by weak performances across the board which, as a result, made it feel like it had no energy to it. A good base is there with the story, but it’s the execution that held it back.