Tuesday, June 2, 2009

DRAG ME TO HELL - A BADASS MOVIE REVIEW


There is no mistake. These two posters are similar for a reason. Why? The Raimi Bros. have come back to school us all.


Once every great while, the beasts of old come back and terrorize civilization. With Lovecraftian precision, they do what so many others have attemped. But these beasts do it better, and they do it right. I am talking about Sam and Ivan Raimi and their return to horror roots with the film, DRAG ME TO HELL.


Initially I was put off by the PG-13 rating which I took as a sign of sellout. Sam Raimi with his brother Ivan in tow began their careers with a flawless twist on the horror genre. But more recently they have been pumping out commercially glossy popcorn action films. Most of these have been good. Some have had glimmers of the brothers' past horror mastery. But none have gone whole-hog and delivered the old horror goods. So who would expect the Raimis to be able to deliver anything close to the EVIL DEAD series or the Liam Neeson showstopper, DARKMAN? It seemed that their untarnished level of horror, with wisecracks and orange blood, was forever cast aside in their climb to the top.


DRAG ME TO HELL is a lesson to everyone who is into horror film. It is a lesson to the hacks cranking out PG-13 thrillers like THE UNINVITED and THE HAUNTING IN CONNETICUT that a PG-13 movie can reach out and deliver tension, splatter, and jumps while keeping the audience cerebrally involved. DRAG ME TO HELL is also a counter to the recent slew of R-RATED torture-porn movies like HOSTEL and the SAW series. It shows that good horror films are about having fun and not about psychological abuse of the audience. Lastly, DRAG ME TO HELL shows horror film makers and fans that a good story can be delivered, and that audiences need not leave the theater making excuses for plot holes.


DRAG ME TO HELL stars Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, a young woman trying to make a difference at her bank. When Christine turns Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) down for a loan she needs to save her house, the movie begins to lift like the bed in the Exorcist and doesn't drop until the last frame.


Mrs. Ganush utters a curse, and the entity that is released is so vicious, that all forms of splatter are soon explored. Popping eyeballs, ridiculous blood spray, and all manners of drool are masterfully presented. Regarding censorship, Sam Raimi seemingly shies away from nothing to earn the PG-13 rating. This movie feels like an old school R. Furthermore, Sam's tongue is jammed through his cheek continually on this one.


The audience is taken through a relentless barrage of loud noises, unfair camera angles, and things leaping out of the dark.


It works, works, works. There isn't a thing wrong with this film. It has the polish; it has the models and the CG. All of the actors deliver. It has the quirky humor, and it even has "the classic," Sam Raimi's 1973 Oldsmobile Delta Royale. Raimi has been putting that car in his movies for his entire career. Ben Parker even drove it in SPIDERMAN.


This film demonstrates, right down to the movie poster, that Sam Raimi is still on the same page he was with THE EVIL DEAD. He brings all of the classic visceral trimmings and all of the quirky humor. Basically, he has come down from the mountain to give us all a lesson on how horror films should be done. He showed us how 30 years ago, and this film is a perfectly crafted reminder before he goes back to make SPIDERMAN 4.