Salem's Lot (Mikael Salomon, 2004, USA)

Salem's Lot, a 2004 two-part miniseries for the TNT network in the US, is the second adaptation of Stephen King's 1975 novel. The first was also made-for-television - perhaps a testament to the level of detail and character arcs in the original novel. The novel has just been adapted into a feature-length version, which is scheduled to be released in 2023. Up until now, however, Salem's Lot is one of King's most canonical works to not receive the big screen adaptation (The Stand being one major exception due to its sheer length). 

Danish director Mikael Salomon's adaptation, from a teleplay by Peter Filardi, is quite faithful to the basic components of King's novel. Its first misstep is to bring the novel - which had a very timeless quality, despite being set firmly in the 1970s - into the early 2000s. References to the Internet and other current events feel very out-of-place in the realm of King's moral universe. Rob Lowe is also an odd choice for our protagonist Ben Mears - his pretty-boy charm does not make him feel like a successful writer. Donald Sutherland is the series' other most known star, and he is the highlight as Straker, the assistant of the main vampire (Barlow). Rutger Hauer as Barlow is underused, although according to Lowe's memoir he had trouble remembering lines.


Despite being made in 2004, Salem's Lot feels more dated than Tobe Hooper's 1979 adaptation. While Hooper's adaptation also focused heavily on the small-town soap opera, it at least had some scary moments. The scary moments don't exist in this 2004 adaptation, and when they do, they appear with jarring and dated 2000s MTV-style editing. Salem's Lot is a mid-tier Stephen King television adaptation - it is not one of the worst, but it is certainly not one of the best. 


5/10

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