Drag Me to Hell Movie Review
Sam Raimi returns to the genre that put him on the map thirty years ago: the horror genre. Though now best known as the director of the Spider-Man trilogy, he has a special place in horror aficionado's hearts for the dark-but-funny Evil Dead trilogy. And now, we get Drag Me to Hell, a hilarious throwback to the horror films of yesteryear.
Drag Me to Hell stars Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, a loan manager at a California bank, who, trying to cement a promotion to assistant manager, decides to make the tough call and deny an old gypsy woman another extension on her mortgage payment. In a fit of rage, the woman curses Christine, effectively damning her to Hell. Over the next three days, Christine begins to see and hear things and realizes she needs to do something in a hurry to avoid an unimaginable fate.
When going into this film, there is one thing to keep in mind: Drag Me to Hell is as much a comedy as it is a horror movie. Knowing this ahead of time makes a huge difference. My friend who went to the movie with me was caught off guard, didn't find the movie particularly scary and was put-off by the cheap special effects. I, on the other hand, found Drag Me to Hell to be one of the most entertaining movies of 2009. It's funny, creepy and disgusting, but nothing like the blood-soaked torture films that the horror genre has devolved into.
The running joke throughout Drag Me to Hell is that Christine needs to keep her mouth shut. Repeatedly, Raimi subjects her to all kinds of punishment, whether it's eyeballs, vomit, maggots or puss-filled gums of an old woman. The blood-letting is kept to a minimum, but Raimi keeps the audience squirming with off-the-wall leakage of bodily fluids. This is the kind of thing that few directors could pull off, but Raimi knows how to entertain audiences (Spider-Man 3 being the exception); Drag Me to Hell may be a horror movie, but entertainment is entertainment.
And thankfully, Drag Me to Hell is the most entertaining horror movie I've seen in a long while. While it's by no means that scary, it does have enough creepy sound effects and jumpy scenes to keep you on the edge of your seat. More importantly, Raimi blends horror and comedy incredibly well. Most of the jokes work, and even in the scariest of moments, Raimi isn't afraid to let the audience laugh.
On the downside, the visual effects are pretty bad. More than likely, they are intentionally so, but there are a few times where they become a little distracting; furthermore, audiences who don't understand that Drag Me to Hell is supposed to be absurd will unnecessarily be put off further by the cheesy effects.
The ending is also a little weak. After what can only be described as a surprisingly original story, the movie becomes predictable in the last 20 minutes. Raimi could have gone a slightly different direction with much greater impact.
Drag Me to Hell is not without its flaws, but it is exactly what it was intended to be. The movie is hilarious and entertaining, and easily one of the best films of 2009 thus far.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.