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Review: 'Drag Me to Hell' - We Are Movie Geeks

Review

Review: ‘Drag Me to Hell’

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dmth

I love you, Sam!

‘Drag Me to Hell’ marks director Sam Raimi’s return to horror-comedy and does so with much twisted joy. Raimi hasn’t made a film of this type since ‘Army of Darkness’ in 1992. Sure he made ‘The Gift’ in 2000, but that was more of a straight psychological horror. ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is firmly planted in his natural element, featuring Raimi’s full-bodied comedy with strong earthy undertones of horror that culminates in a wonderfully evil finish.

Raimi’s sense of humor is unmistakable as he clearly still derives his inspiration from his trifecta of muses, The Three Stooges. While there is a great deal of generally funny bits that counter-balance the scares in this movie, there are also a slew of inside jokes and references making this a kind of Raimi encyclopedia of cinema style. What makes these moments even more enjoyable, is that you instantly know who is a member of the Sam Raimi fanboy club because only a select scattered laughs echo throughout the theater as the general audience wonders what was so funny.

The story follows Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) as she attempts to secure an assistant manager promotion at her bank by proving she can “make the tough decisions” but unfortunately chooses the wrong customer to cut her teeth on. Lorna Raver plays Mrs. Ganush, the old woman whom Christine refuses an extension on her mortgage, ultimately resulting in the old woman’s placing a curse on Christine which gives her three days before a dark spirit called the Lamia comes to collect her soul, or as the title implies, drags her to Hell.

‘Drag Me to Hell’ has a few jump-in-your-seat scares, but is mostly a fun thrill ride with dark humor. The one major “scary” scene occurs upon the old woman’s first attempt at revenge against Christine while in the parking garage. Aside from this, the movie is primarily a comedy of the less traditional sort. Justin Long plays Christine’s boyfriend Clay, giving a decent performance with his share of comedic moments, but is definitely a supporting character as this movie is all about Christine Brown.

For the true Raimi-ites out there, be happy and reassured to know that “the classic” returns for it’s usual cameo, however appears with much more frequency in this film than is custom. For those of you not in the know, “the classic” is Raimi’s yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that he makes a point to include on screen in every one of his movies. In addition to “the classic” Sam’s brother Ted also makes his usual cameo appearance, but I’ll let you figure out where he shows up. We’ll call it a pop quiz to see if you were paying attention.

Overall, ‘Drag me to Hell’ is an enjoyable romp through what is likely a semi-working vacation for Raimi before diving back into the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise. Allegedly, Sam and his brother Ivan (who write almost everything together) originally wrote the screenplay for ‘Drag Me to Hell’ upon completing ‘Army of Darkness’ but was put aside in favor of other projects. So, theoretically, this was a movie 17 years in the making.

Much of the plot is fairly predictable and the CGI isn’t the greatest in parts, but the film isn’t about the mystery or the glitz. ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is all about having a good time watching Raimi indulge his cinematic inner child once more amidst an era of bigger fish he gets to fry.

Hopeless film enthusiast; reborn comic book geek; artist; collector; cookie connoisseur; curious to no end

4 Comments

  1. Craig

    May 29, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I am surprised this is getting such good buzz since it is PG-13 but I guess that’s what makes it a great horror film. It doesn’t go for cheap scares and gimmicks. I will be seeing this movie this weekend and looking forward to it.

  2. Kirk

    May 29, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Ummm, about those cheap scares and gimmicks, I’m gonna have to burst your bubble there. There are a ton of cheap scares. Enjoy, nonetheless.

  3. Heath

    June 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I thought the cheap scares and gimmicks were in on the joke instead of treating you like a moron like other movies that use the same techniques. For instance, I felt like I was being treated like a moron when I watched A Haunting In Connecticut (and not just because I saw it either) due to the way the scares were staged. With Raimi and Drag Me To Hell, I felt I was in on it or the scares were genuinely surprising most of the time. You never feel safe because anything can happen at anytime. Day, night, sleeping, awake, etc.

    I thought this was one of the better horror movies I’ve seen in a long time and definitely the most fun I’ve had in the theaters.

    Also, it seems that critics love this movie and the Raimi following do (loved hearing Lohman say, “I’m gonna get some!” ala Ash!!!), but all the people who aren’t in the know of the stuff like the Yellow Delta or Ted always having a cameo (Doctor/Doc’s voice this time I think) seem to not be into as much. I really wish this thing gets the word of mouth it deserves and people go and see it.

  4. Michael

    June 3, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    First off, loved this movie. I work at the Wehrenberg Chesterfield Galaxy 14 and have had the opportunity to see this movie three times since it came out last friday. It’s refreshing to see Raimi returning to his version of a campy “grindhouse” style horror. I also very much enjoyed Alison Lohman as Christine Brown. She played the role well and in true Raimi fashion so as not to get you too involved with the character but just enough so that the ending shocks and surprises you, even though you already know whats coming. The one thing I would have like to see apart from “the classic” and Ted was to see Bruce Campbell make some type of cameo. After having seen him in all three Spiderman movies, I was almost sure that we would have seen him at some point. Oh well. Personally, I have to agree with travis on his rating of this movie for overall cinematography, character development and the movies ability to elicit suspence in the face of laughing in my seat.

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