October 20, 2009

Drag Me To Hell (2009)

I’VE BEEN A FAN OF filmmaker Sam Raimi since seeing the original Evil Dead at age 15 – a low-budget, overly gory scarefest that had me and three of my fellow freshmen friends jumping out of our seats.

But since then (and following two Evil Dead sequels), Raimi went mainstream with non-horror films such as For Love of the Game, the Spider-Man trilogy, and the underrated Darkman and A Simple Plan – leaving fans of Raimi’s horror work to ask: Can he still bring it?

With Drag Me To Hell, they would find out…

Loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) wants desperately to be promoted to assistant manager at her bank. So when a creepy old gypsy (Lorna Raver) comes in and asks her to stop the bank from foreclosing on her home, Christine decides to play tough and say no. She’s later attacked by the woman (in a deliciously outrageous sequence), who puts a curse on her – one that is lead by a demon who torments the accursed for three days, and on the fourth day drags them to…well, y’know.


From Drag Me To Hell’s brief yet terrifying opening sequence, Raimi lets you know he’s still got it, and he’s not wasting time. His signature gore-meets-slapstick is splattered across the film, with a large heaping of squirmy, over-the-top gross-out moments. (In one scene, Raimi gets so cartoonish he literally drops an anvil on a character’s head.)

That being said, Raimi also does a great job using classic old-school methods for scares: a house on a hill at night, strange noises in the distance, creaking doors and floorboards, thunder and lightning, etc.

Music plays a key part to many of DMTH’s scary scenes. The score by Christopher Young uses a lot of the familiar piercing, staccato violins Raimi featured in the original Evil Dead.

Lohman seems a bit lightweight for everything that’s going on, not really rising to the material and coming off more like a scared teenager than a young professional. Justin Long does fine as the obligatory skeptical-then-concerned boyfriend. But neither of things matter, because it’s the movie that’s truly the star.

While the first hour of DMTH is relentlessly entertaining, the last act sputters a bit. A séance to bring forth the demon borderlines on the absurd (a talking goat? Really?), and you can see the ending coming a mile away (think envelopes).

Drag Me To Hell is available on DVD today, October 20. If you miss Raimi’s horror hijinks, or you’re looking for a heaping dose of jumps and scares for your Halloween viewing, check it out. If you doubt whether good PG-13 horror is possible – and whether Raimi can still bring the scary-crazy – look no further than this.


Will your kids want to watch it?
• Your kids may tell you (and themselves) that they love scary movies, but keep in mind that Drag Me To Hell is rated a “hard” PG-13. (Even I jumped at least three times while watching it.) There’s an abundance of truly scary scenes and visions, including demonic possession, projectile vomiting (of cockroaches, in one instance), abuse of a corpse, and one animal sacrifice (albeit largely off-screen). Oh, and there’s some mild profanity, if everything above isn’t enough.
• In short: Teens? Should be fine. Tweens? Eh, use your judgment. Children? No way.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Wow, tough one. My wife is terrified of anything to do with Hell, the devil, or his minions, so there’s no way I’d convince her to watch this. But if your better half enjoys getting the Hades scared out of her, Drag Me To Hell is a great pick.

I said turn LEFT!

Drag Me To Hell
• Director: Sam Raimi
• Screenwriter: Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi
• Stars: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, Adriana Barraza
• MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language)

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Keith said...

I hadn't seen this yet, but I had heard good things about it from some of my buddies. I do wanna check it out.

Surfer Jay said...

I love horror movies. Nice to know that you gave this one a good rating, I'll have to rent it. WHats with the staples in her forehead? And that side shot of her looks like Freddy.

Jeff Allard said...

Glad you liked this - I thought it was terrific, one of the year's best. Although it did decent business, I think a lot of old-school Raimi fans passed it by due to its PG-13 rating. Which is a shame because the movie totally delivers. And I have to say, the talking goat was one of the off-the-wall highlights of the movie to me!

James (SeattleDad) said...

I'll be there in Hell's basement. And no one had to drag me. Sad.

like the review.

Josh Lipovetsky said...

Absolutely hilarious and terrifying at the same time! Saw it with my Uncle, Cousin, and sister. Made the mistake of sitting next to my sister, and she nearly pulled my arm off! The scene with the goat is priceless!

Jay Amabile said...

You know what? Reading your review made me really want to see this movie...until you mentioned the vomiting up cockroaches. I heard about the cockroach thing on G4, but that kind of stuff grosses me out. I saw a video on Youtube where a kid ate a live cockroach to get to be first on line for a roller coaster at an amusement park. That's totally disgusting to me. ugh.

Aside from that, it's nice to hear that there's actually some good horror films getting released that aren't SAW sequels.

rob! said...

You know, having seen a billion horror movies, I know that the ending was obvious, and yet...when I saw it, it scared the living crap out of me.

There's something about being confined to burn in Hell for all eternity, due to a stupid oversight is, to me, quite chilling.

And the fact that the scene lasts just long enough to see Christine having her skin burned off, knowing THIS TORMENT WILL NEVER END, is really, really creepy.

Information Review said...

This is a good scary movie.I enjoyed so many of Sam Raimi movies over the years and I knew this one wouldn't disappoint. Never taking itself to seriously but given the viewer a good story and great special effects.

celebrities said...

Thoroughly entertaining movie. Many people commits that this movie is not all a nice horror tale but this movie really scared me. I like review and Thanks a lot for sharing it.


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