Drag Me To Hell

- Advertisement -

Drag Me to Hell

Directed by Sam Raimi

drag_me_to_hell_posterWhere other horror pioneers’ attempts to return to the cinematic styles that earned them their reputations have generally ranged from middling (George Romero’s Land and Diary of the Dead) to embarrassing (Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears), Sam Raimi effortlessly slips back into “spook-a-blast” mode with the outrageously fun Drag Me to Hell. Viewers worried about Raimi’s long absence from the genre need not worry about his directorial touch, nor the PG-13 rating; Raimi has kept many of his trademark flourishes handy in the Spider-Man series anyway (first-person perspectives, Dutch angles), and his Evil Dead films were more about manic entertainment than conspicuous bloodletting.

Hell seemed to be headed for trouble when initial star Ellen Page dropped out due to scheduling issues, but replacement Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men, Beowulf) more than ably fills her shoes as Christine Brown, a loan officer gunning for a newly vacant managerial position at her small-town bank. When her boss (David Paymer) insists that Christine will be forced to make “tough decisions” in order to move up the ladder (with Reggie Lee’s delectably brown-nosing co-worker in hot pursuit of self-fame goal), she decides to bluntly inform an elderly gypsy that the bank will have to foreclose on her home, even after she begs for clemency. In response, the gypsy places an ancient curse on Christine which promises to…well, consult the title.

drag_me_to_hell_choke11The key to Raimi’s success here lies not only in the successful return of his patented scare formula, but also some very canny writing, with which he had help from his returning collaborator on the Evil Dead series, brother Ivan. Care is taken to strike the right balance not only with respect to the humor/horror equilibrium, but also with Lohman’s protagonist. A whiny heroine would have been disastrous, while an overly confident one would have sunk the film’s many comic setpieces. Instead, Christine is allowed to be headstrong as well as frightened, and most importantly, is made to own her decisions – a key element in a movie where moral predicaments serve as principal plot thrusts, particularly in the final reels. Sterling support is provided by Justin Long as Christine’s loving boyfriend – in another remarkable touch, their relationship is neither cutesy nor implausible, engendering genuine hope that they’ll pull through Raimi’s ghoulish gauntlets.

drag-me-to-hell-seance

But really, it’s the old-fashioned surreal, funny spook sequences that make the film tick, and by forgoing ’00s horror mores and relying on devilish editing and mostly practical visual effects (save for an almost disastrous opening sequence), Raimi is able to successfully mine territory he left behind many years ago without tarnishing what came before. He’ll be heading back into Spider-Man territory before long, but here’s hoping he doesn’t stay away from his old stomping grounds quite this long next time.

Simon Howell

5 Comments
  1. […] Where other horror pioneers’ attempts to return to the cinematic styles that earned them their reputations have generally ranged from middling (George Romero’s Land and Diary of the Dead) to embarrassing (Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears), Sam Raimi effortlessly slips back into “spook-a-blast” mode with the outrageously fun Drag Me to Hell. Viewers worried about Raimi’s long absence from the genre need not worry about his directorial touch, nor the PG-13 rating; Raimi has kept many of his trademark flourishes handy in the Spider-Man series anyway (first-person perspectives, Dutch angles), and his Evil Dead films were more about manic entertainment than conspicuous bloodletting… (read the full review) […]

  2. Myles says

    Nice review Simon – I agree wholeheartedly. A fun movie which never takes itself too seriously – there’s a serious lack of those nowadays.

  3. Bryan White says

    I’m with Ricky. The trailer was fucking awful. After seeing it, my interest plunged. I just dind’t care. But I’m glad that I went to see it last night. It is easily going to be the best horror movie of the year and is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a wicked long time. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Sam Raimi is easily the best director working in horror today and he hasn’t made a horror movie since Army of Darkness! That guy is the master.

  4. Ricky says

    The trailer is hands down the worse trailer of 2009 but in all honesty it was a blast watching this movie. I can`t wait to review it on the next podcast.

  5. Márcio says

    I wasn’t terribly excited to see this after watching the trailer and now thanks to your review I kinda of am. Thanks.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.