Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
New York Times:
Considerable care goes into establishing the premise, but the film eventually abandons psychological subtlety for hallucinatory garishness, which is too bad.
Less inferno than slow burn, Rob Zombie's retro witch thriller The Lords of Salem has plenty of portent but not much payoff.
Zombie proves once again that he understands how many different ways there are to give an audience the creeps.
You get the idea that "The Lords of Salem" would be a lot scarier if you could tell what was going on.
A portrait of vengeful occult torment that pushes hard to redefine the meaning of "witch trials."
Polished and calculated, this is a nerve-shattering fright fest bolstered by immaculate technique.
Some of this looks cool enough, but most of it's just silly satanic mumbo jumbo that's not particularly scary.
A more restrained kind of grungy horror throwback than the rocker-turned-filmmaker has offered to date, at least marking a step in a different direction, if not necessarily the right one.
Although it eventually descends into silliness, this creepily atmospheric effort delivers some effective scares along the way.
Rob Zombie, film scholar? I'm convinced. Rob Zombie, filmmaker? Mmmyeah, not so much.
It's all meant to be monstrous, unspeakable, blasphemous horror but it comes across more like a slightly dirty drawing, passed in seventh-grade religion class.
New York Daily News:
Atmosphere is three-fourths of the game in a horror film, and "The Lords of Salem" has it in spades.
New York Post:
Movies by Rob Zombie, the goth rocker turned cult filmmaker, aren't for everybody. But he couldn't care less.
Instead of retreating into his manic, hyper-allusive style of psychedelic, grindhouse-friendly pastiche, Zombie tested his considerable skills and made something different.
It's a credit to Zombie's interest in growing as an artist that he's drawing from more mature inspirations here, but it's also part of why the movie doesn't work.
Even as a coven assembles, the movie forgets to scare.
The movie is eerily photographed, but never suspenseful or scary, and eventually, events descend into goat-sacrificing silliness.