A Haunting in Salem (Shane van Dyke, 2011)
Bill Oberst Jr. (The Secret Life of Bees), the lead actor in A Haunting in Salem, recently posted an apology for the film via his blog. Not necessarily for the film itself, but for his performance in it (he did not specifically name it, but it was obvious what movie he was talking about), claiming he should never have taken the role, because it wasn’t right for him. “I knew I was wrong for the role,” Oberst writes at billoberst.com, “but I took it anyway. That was unfair to a great cast and crew who deserved better.” He also says “The role in question…generated the only bad film reviews I have had in 4 years and 56 projects.”
Allow me, as I so often am, to be the voice of dissent here, because I thought Obsert’s performance in the otherwise mediocre A Haunting in Salem was actually pretty darned good. The fact that he wasn’t the average-joe clean-cut hero-type made him more compelling, to me (after all, you can put a hero-type in a crappy movie in a role very similar to this and still have it turn out a dog. We can even match the profession—did you catch Coastas Mandylor in exactly this type of role in exactly this type of movie in 2010’s The Cursed? No, you didn’t, and believe me—you are the better for it). His reactions to the ridiculous goings-on around him seemed perfectly natural; if you’re not a bit confused when the supernatural starts whaling on you, then you’re not quite a member of the human race.
As for the great crew… well, the movie was directed by Shane van Dyke, directing his fourth mockbuster for The Asylum (he is, and deserves to be, most infamous for his first, the execrable Paranormal Entity). This guy is a proven loser working for a studio whose entire existence comes from making quick-cash-grab ripoff pictures. Mr. Oberst, you gave them a helluva lot more than they deserved. * ½
It’s no fun without a trailer!