Review: Drag Me To Hell (2009)

This article was published on the original Sorry I’m on 17/08/09.

Drag Me To Hell

Sam Raimi returns from the multi-picture Spider-Man juggernaut to return to self-penned (with brother Ivan) horror/slapstick amalgamation Drag Me to Hell, in a style not seen from the director since 1993’s Army of Darkness – the third in the Evil Dead trilogy.

Drag Me to Hell sees Christine Brown (Lohman), a loans officer of the proverbial mild-mannered variety, longing for a promotion to assistant manager at her branch – a position which co-worker Stu Rubin (Reggie Lee, whose middle name should be awesome) is also gunning for. To impress her boss and to prove that she can make the tough calls, she denies old gypsy woman Mrs. Ganush (Raver) a third extension of her mortgage and thus sealing her fate as the curse of the Lamia is placed on Christine by the scorned Ganush – a curse which will plague and torment Christine for three days until finally dragging her straight to Hell (It’s not just a clever title). With her cynical boyfriend by her side (Long), Christine must seek the aid of psychics Rham Jas and Shaun San Dena – the latter which has encountered the Lamia before – to help abolish the evil spirit before it is too late.

With most films released under the banner of his production company Ghost House being underwhelming at best, (‘Knock knock.’ ’Who’s there?’ ‘Boogeyman.’ ‘Oh really, Boogeyman?  Nah, go away now.’), back comes Sam Raimi to invigorate and revitalise a genre which, as a whole, has been stale for a while now. Bringing with him an originality sorely lacking in modern horror, Raimi blasts your senses with tension, scares, action, and comedy – a whole gamut of emotions which take the viewer on a non-stop ride which never fails to entertain.

The one element that sets this apart – and above – horror fare of late is the previously mentioned sense of comedy, a notion lacking in most recent releases. No qualms about it, this movie will scare you, but you will be scared with a smile on your face. Raimi is the master of taking something truly horrifying and adding that wee bit of slapstick and amping up the awesome. Normally a 30cm ruler into the eye would be pretty cringe-worthy normally, yeah? In this case it is cringe-worthy but with a Three Stooges twist. When viewed with an audience you will audibly hear emotions from beginning to end.

Stepping into the lead of a Raimi horror, one would expect to be given a right flogging, and Alison Lohman is no exception as she gets the shit beaten out of her. Lohman does a wonderful job of confusion at the beginning of the ordeal, which then leads to fear, desperation and in the third act angry determination – even spitting out a few one-liners to make Bruce Campbell proud. The rest of the cast does okay but Lorna Raver is excellent as Ganush going from disgusting old lady to psychotic old lady in the blink of an eye.

One thing you need to be aware of before seeing this is that it is loud – like really freakin’ loud. And there are plenty of jump scares as well, and combine the two and you have one Hell (whammy) of a film-going experience on your hands. A special mention also needs to be made of the excellent soundtrack by Christopher Young, which is about as epic of a horror score as it gets.

Drag Me to Hell is a future cult favourite from a cult favourite director. If you were not a fan of this style to begin with then this is the flick to convert you. A roller-coaster ride from ‘go’, you will feel exhilarated after such a tremendous cinematic experience.

Award: Golden Llama

– A talking goat? A talking goat that curses?
– Slapstick horror at its finest.
– Reggie Lee.
– Awesome ending.

– I see you Justin Long. I see you with your Mac computer and iPhone, Justin Long. Not very subtle, Justin Long.

– The Evil Dead
– The Evil Dead 2: Dead Before Dawn
– Army of Darkness
– Shaun of the Dead

Directed by: Sam Raimi
Written by: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Produced by: Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, Grant Curtis
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, Reggie Lee
Distributed by: Universal
Budget: $30 million
Run length: 99 minutes
Australian Release: 23 July 2009


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