Old 06-03-2009, 04:00 PM
Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me To Hell (2009)

It's good to see Sam Raimi return to his old horror roots after having spent the last seven years wrapped up in the Spider Man trilogy. Several years after "Army of Darkness" in 1993, everyone began to wonder if he would ever make another good horror film. With "Drag Me To Hell," he shows us that he still has what it takes to make a thoroughly entertaining horror flick like he used to.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) works as a loan officer at a bank. One day, an old woman, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), comes in requesting an extension on her loan, which she must obtain or else she will lose her house. The bank manager leaves the choice to Christine who ultimately decides to deny the woman the extension. The old woman begs her, which leads Christine to call security. Having been shamed, the old woman places a curse on Christine that will make a demon haunt her for three days, after which, she will be dragged to hell.

This is indeed a return to the "fun" horror films that Raimi created with "The Evil Dead" trilogy. It's got a nice mix of horror and humor, sometimes in the same scenes. Raimi, of course, perfected this mix, especially in "The Evil Dead II," where he discovered that a lot of the material actually is funny. In "DMTH," the humor comes in spots such as the "battle" with the old woman and in the scene where she is being attacked by the demon in her storage room and there just happens to be a large anvil hanging from the ceiling. You never know when those things will come in handy.

At times, it's hard to know whether to take this film seriously or just start laughing hysterically. The anvil is certainly one good example of a humorous incident during a serious scene. Later on, there is a battle with a handkerchief (?!) that comes off as much more silly than scary with the old woman's face appearing on it as it suddenly lands on her windshield only to be wiped away by the windshield wipers. It goes on, and in a sense, reminded me of Ash fighting his hand in the second "Evil Dead" film.

While this was a good movie, I wish that Raimi had gone further with the horror and the humor. In his older horror films, he always seemed to be taking it to the limit and not holding anything back. A lot of the scares from this film come in sudden bursts, not lasting very long. However, he does manage to hold at least one moment, while giving us a flashback to his older films, in the seance scene. Fans of the "Evil Dead" films will recognize the possessed humans, floating in the air and talking with the strange voices. Here's also a moment where a little more humor is injected as we see one of the possessed people do a little jig while floating in the air.

The special effects are done rather well, so well in fact, that some people may be easily grossed out by how realistic certain parts are. You get the typical spraying of blood, vomit, and eyes flying out of someone's face. Likewise, the make-up is effective in bringing out the evil of the old woman and the demon.

The spraying of the blood in particular reminded me of the blood flying out of the wall in "EDII" (yeah, I'm just initialing now, do forgive the constant references, but it is incredibly similar in several ways to his classics) except in "DMTH," it is at least a reasonable amount of blood, whereas the blood from the wall is absurdly abundant and supposedly coming from Ash's hand.

The ending was satisfying enough, even though you could see it coming from a mile away. Let's just say that it's not as contrived as it could have been, or as I thought it was going to be for a couple of minutes while watching the ending unfold. It was also logical enough, though some people will probably say that the coin was too convenient of a plot point to support this kind of ending.

It's definitely worth checking out, especially if you're a fan of Raimi's type of horror or if you're simply looking for a quick scare, and by that, I mean several of those "sudden surprise" moments. For years now, there have been rumors of another "ED" film and even a remake of the original, which would be interesting, especially since the only "ED" to be produced recently was a musical. Whatever Raimi decides on, let's just hope that he doesn't decide to wait another 16 years before delivering another fun horror flick. 3/4 stars.
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:54 PM
good review. its spot on. not a masterpiece like some people are saying but goddamn its enjoyable. the seance scene was a ridiculous amount of fun. Sam really does horror the best and i think he needs to stick to it. and im so ready for an ED4
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:09 PM
Sam Raimi is known for his horror/comedy romp for the Evil Dead series., While he hasn't gone to the horror romp since The Gift, people were hoping for a return to his horror roots. Now, after reeling from his Spider man series (jeez Spider man 3 gets worse with age), he returns with his horror flick Drag Me to Hell. It involves a girl by the name of Christine (Allison Lohman), who works in loans at a bank. When the prospect of a promotion becomes available, Christine makes a tough call in terms of refusing to put an extension on a old gypsy woman's house payment by the name of Mrs. Ganush. What happens next is too good to spoil here, but a curse is involved and Christine has three days to get rid of it before she is brought to hell.

Now, when i saw the trailer for this, I kind of had little to no expectations towards what was going on. Thankfully, I was proven wrong because this is just a fun horror/comedy flick for the summer. If Raimi isn't getting you good with the scares at some points, he's cracking you up over the gross-outs that are happening on screen. it kind of becomes a bit much at certain points, but it was just about enjoyable throughout. Allsion Lohman plays a character that isn't a good person who everyone roots for, she does some things in her own self interest and most viewers may resent her for it and just cheer on for her possible demise. Mrs. Ganush is a pretty sweet horror villain, being pretty damn creepy and making Christine go through all kinds of madness. Unfortunately, the movie winds down toward a pretty predictable ending that some people may see coming, but after thinking it over, was defintiely fine for what it was.

So, overall, Drag Me to Hell is just a fun horror flick, combining laughs with scares that people need to check out in order to truly get how much fun this Raimi flick is.

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Old 10-15-2009, 06:09 PM

(Sam Raimi, 2009)

Over the past decade, I couldn't help but notice that Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson have been following very similar career paths. Both started out directing zero-budget, hilariously schlocky and highly stylized horror films, eventually upgrading and by the turn of the century directing big-budget studio-produced fantasy films. Jackson lent his unique vision and style to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, while Raimi's Spider-Man films featured a fascinating combination of low-budget horror sentiments and stylistic choices with enormous-budget production values. Now, after he finished his original Spidey trilogy (and before moving on to the upcoming sequels), Raimi went back to his roots and delivered a good, old-fashioned schlocky horror entertainment. And boy does he deliver.

Unlike the two Evil Dead sequels, this film isn’t a straight-up horror comedy, although it is quite hilarious. It's not a parody, though, and doesn't feature visual gags or jokes or anything like that. But rather, it just features scenes and concepts that are so over-the-top, one can't help but to laugh. In fact, this film can be seen as the exact opposite of "modern" horror movies: those films push the gritty realism of the situations they depict (even if they are usually nothing more than cheap torture and gore), while in this film, Raimi makes a point to emphasize the mythical, fantasy element and how over-the-top it is. By not taking itself seriously, the film leaves itself room to basically do whatever it wants, and stylistically, it really feels like a throwback to a more old-fashioned style of horror entertainment. It's not even that intense a film – it's rated PG-13, features no nudity or gore (but it does feature a lot of gross-out scenes featuring various insects and liquids) and most of its scares come from its sound design and editing.

Speaking of the sound design and editing, the film is a technical wonder. Because it's so stylistically over-the-top, Raimi has the freedom to do what he wants with his camera, and the film features some really well-shot and well-crafted scenes and sequences that greatly intensify its sense of style. Probably the most inspired technical element of the film is its sound, from the brilliant sound design and effects to its pounding musical score which is also one of its biggest throwbacks to an older-fashioned style of film. The performances are also top-notch; good casting choices led to actors who don't phone in their performances but rather invest a lot of effort, both physical and emotional, into their roles, and the results are most noticeable. Alison Lohman particularly stands out, and she's also an underrated favourite of mine so it's great to see her get meaty leading roles like this one. Justin Long can be absolutely hilarious when he wants to so it's still strange for me to see him in completely straight-guy roles such as in Live Free or Die Hard, but it actually works in this film.

Ultimately, what makes this film work so well is that it never takes itself seriously. Raimi uses the best stylistic flourishes at his disposal to lend it an atmosphere and feeling of an older and more classic type of horror film, a film that isn't really scary at all (except for a few jump-out-of-your-seat scenes which are just part of the throwback) but one that works on a purely entertaining level as an old-fashioned good time at the movies.

RATING: 7/10.
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