Director – Sam Raimi
Cast – Allyson Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barazza
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Not since February 19, 1993, the theater release date for Sam Raimi’s “Army of Darkness“, has Raimi given us a horror film that embodies everything that he built his film career out of. He planted himself in the horror scene with his Evil Dead trilogy, and based those films on a few simple, yet effective elements: demons, demons, demons, gore, gross-out gags, slapstick comedy, and of course…his effective use of camera angles(which we even saw in his Spiderman films). In 2000 Sam Raimi gave us “The Gift”, which yes…does fall into the horror genre, but is not much a “horror” film, but more of a supernatural thriller. It is now, the weekend of May 29, 2009 that Sam Raimi has OFFICIALLY returned to his roots! Much like the poor farm boy who left his little town and took his shot at the mainstream world, he has returned home, and shown us that despite his success…he still remembers and respects where he came from.
Drag Me to Hell follows Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, a very sweet and aspiring loan officer at a small and very modest bank who has found the love of her life, Dr. Clay Dalton PhD(Justin Long). When a chance for Christine to seize the vacant managing spot at the bank, she is forced to make a tough decision that will send a poor woman out of her home, and out on the streets. With one of the requirements for her promotion being that she should be able to “make the tough decisions”, she denies the old woman an extension, despite the woman shamefully getting on her knees and begging Christine to change her mind. All seems well and despite the incident, the rest of Christine’s day goes by without a problem. However as she leaves the bank, she realizes she is being stalked by the old woman, who then puts a gypsy curse on Christine, a curse that gives her three straight days of harassment by a goat-like demon, and then…she gets dragged to hell! It is not up to her, her boyfriend, and a few local spirituals to help rid her of the curse, but doing so will not only put all of their lives in danger, but is not even guaranteed to work.
As with at least half of the horror genre, I went into this film expecting Raimi to deliver me an awesome horror film. Before the release of the film I witnessed way too many critics saying they didn’t not expect much from the film, and although we have been given some pretty crappy modern horror films, that is no reason to doubt one of horror’s best directors. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and was going to let me be proved wrong, and fortunately for Raimi and myself…he delivered! Right away this film gets started with demon activity and some foreground on the curse that is used. We are not given all that much development before the scares begin to kick in again, and from then on it’s a fun, and pretty darn hilarious ride until the credits roll. I not once found myself bored with this film, which shows how well Sam uses pacing, and he places the scares at just the right times to keep the audience into the film. Way too many times have I seen horror films that deliver good scares, but they are just spaced so far apart that the film itself lags, well…that is not the case here.
One aspect that Raimi exceeds on is one that is always overlooked by moviegoers…atmosphere. Each set was perfect for the scenes and scenarios it was used in. The bank, quiet and a bit conservative, showed the simple and pleasing life Christine led before being cursed. Her home, small and not by any means “new” with it‘s creaking gate and other items that could use a few sprays of WD-40, provided a creepy atmosphere and the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped and with nowhere to run. I could elaborate on other locations, but I don’t want to give out any other spoilers.
There is really nothing major that I did not like about this film, other than myself not personally being a fan of Justin Long(cock in his ass). I feel that Sam Raimi really did an amazing job given that this was the pg-13 cut of the film, most likely forced upon him by producers. If this film can be any better, I’m sure it WILL BE when we are given the R-rated or hopefully Unrated version of the film once the DVD is released. Anywho, no matter what I or anyone else tells you…Raimi is back!
– I ranked this film #8 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade post.