TV Review: Salem’s Lot (2004) – 5.5/10

‘I used to think nothing happened here. But the truth is everything happens here…’

As Stephen King’s vampire fable Salem’s Lot is receiving yet another remake in this the year of our Lord 2024, and as it is 20 years since this second remake hit television screens, now is the perfect time to dive into 2004’s little-seen version of Salem’s Lot from director Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers, Rome)

To say most people aren’t aware this adaptation exists, it’s startling how starry the cast is. Rob Lowe heads up the cast as protagonist Ben Mears. James Cromwell, Andre Braugher and Samantha Mathis round out the vampire hunters with Donald Sutherland and Rutger Hauer representing team vampire. The issue is that this talented cast are largely wasted on a competent but ultimately toothless retelling.

Danish director Salomon started as a celebrated cinematographer and while much of this is very 2004 (the blue tint!), this iteration of Salem’s Lot at least looks nice. The town itself feels like a real town and the dialogue stays faithful to King’s original text. It’s a shame then that while Salomon is successful in building tension and creating suspense, the journey is much more interesting than the destination. The scares when they do finally arrive hang limply in the air, sometimes literally, and this robs the film of the visceral power that made the original 1979 version so affecting.

Salem’s Lot 2004 is not bad by any means, it couldn’t be with such an accomplished cast, but it is also easy to see why it hasn’t endured. Watch the original instead.