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Sam Raimi's Return to Horror
on July 10, 2009
He's back! No I'm not talking about Freddy, Jason, Chucky or Michael. I'm talking about Sam...as in Sam Raimi. It's been almost 17 years since Raimi has helmed a horror flick and he hasn't lost his touch. Drag Me to Hell feels like the ugly (real ugly), long lost sister of Evil Dead II. It blends jump-outta-your-seat scares with Three Stooges style slap stick. If that sounds like an odd combination then you've never watched a Raimi horror movie before...
Drag Me to Hell is a basic morality tale. The whole thing feels like a polished episode of Tales from the Crypt. The story follows Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a young woman who is looking to move up the corporate ladder at the bank where she's employed. Her boss tells her that she must learn to make the hard decisions if she wants a promotion and the first time she attempts this she forecloses the house of a disgusting, old, gypsy woman (Lorna Raver). If classic horror has taught us anything it's that you don't EVER screw with gypsies (or carnie folk). The dilapidated crone waits for Christine in the parking garage (in Raimi's beat up Oldsmobile!) and applies the 'Curse of Lamia'. The Lamia is a devil goat that loves the taste of souls. It takes three days to fully manifest and then the demon comes looking for its meal which gets dragged back to Hell for consumption.
Christine is perfectly portrayed by Lohman and I'll be damned if that girl doesn't have some spunk! She is cute as hell and has a knack for physical comedy. One thing about Raimi is that he loves to put his actors/actresses through the ringer. Lohman is a trooper as she gets hit in the face with maggots, mud, blood, drool etc... See that's the beauty of this film. Every time something terrifying happens it's quickly followed up with some disgusting gag that makes you cringe and then burst into a fit of laughter. It's a really great group experience...much like a well executed haunted house.
Justin Long plays Lohman's love interest, Dr. Clay Dalton, and to be honest it seems like he's just along for the ride. Make no mistake about it, this is Lohman's movie and she easily carries it all on her own. The rest of the cast is merely there to witness Christine physically and mentally fall apart as the Lamia's curse intensifies.
My only real complaint is that Raimi actually had the budget to create some CG effects. While they don't ruin the movie, I would have loved to see him stick with the real stuff instead. My main problem is that the things he uses CG for could have easily been done with practical effects.
Drag Me to Hell is horror done right. Sam Raimi has crafted one of the best horror films I've seen in the past 5 years. You've got elements of Evil Dead, The Exorcist and Dead Alive all stirred into the wicked witch's brew that is Drag Me to Hell. The packed theatre I sat in seemed to really get into it, but I'm afraid some folks simply won't wrap their heads around all the goofy stuff that Raimi does. Make sure you drag as many friends as possible to see it. Rest assured that everyone will be jumping in their seats, covering their eyes, screaming and giggling like prepubescent schoolgirls! Drag Me to Hell is just flat out fun cinema. Go see it.
Final Grade: A