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A Haunting in Salem (2011): A Lot of People Should Apologize for This Movie, but Bill Oberst Isn’t One of Them.

A Haunting in Salem (Shane van Dyke, 2011)


photo credit: Dread Central

Forget the movie, how many big Hollywood productions did the Asylum steal from for even this ridiculous poster?

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, “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.”

photo credit: The Wolfman Cometh

Just a small-town sheriff and his wife. Why WOULDN’T they be confused when weird stuff starts going down?

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.

photo credit:

You know, sometimes, instead of trying to pick it up, you should just grab the bottle of Drano and go to town.

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



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About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

4 responses »

  1. Goat,

    I still maintain that I was awful, but I appreciate the benefit of the doubt. The film did generate 3 positives for me: its financial success led to being offered the lead in Asylum’s “Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies” (an ugly-guy role I relished;) my perceived failure in “Salem” led me to dive headfirst and method-like into the role of cult leader Simon Leach in Jourdan McClures “Children Of Sorrow,” which has won multiple awards at its first two festival outings; and, last but not least, dear old “A Haunting In Salem” earned me my very favorite bad review of all time. I have it framed on my desk:

    ‘Best acting honors go to the poor girl who played Oberst’s wife, as she had to make out with Harry Potter’s Dobby.’

    I live. I learn. I press on 🙂

    Enjoyed poking around your blog. I will be a new reader. Nice to see intelligent criticism.

    very best regards,
    Bill Oberst Jr.

    • I gotta admit, sir, when I read that line about making out with Dobby, I did laugh out loud. But I do stand by my assertion that you were totally believable there, and I enjoyed the hell out of that role. In fact, as much as The Asylum drives me bonkers, I have ALv.Z in my Netflix queue solely ’cause you’re in it.

      EDIT: Had to change the movie name… THE ASYLUM DUPED ME AGAIN, DAMMIT! [laughs]

  2. Pingback: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012): An Asylum First…It May Be Better than the Movie It’s Imitating « Popcorn for Breakfast

  3. Pingback: The Resident (2011): Needed to Be an Intern Longer | Popcorn for Breakfast

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