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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Drag Me to Hell Took Me to Heaven

Thank you Sam Raimi, for saving us from sequels, remakes and adolescent garbage. Welcome back, sir. Hail to the king, baby.

In an age when so much unimaginative crap is being pumped out there for horror fans to deal with, Mr. Raimi has returned to the horror genre for the first time since the Evil Dead trilogy, and given us a truly fresh, original piece of horror cinema that is bound to become one of the all-time favorites of a great many fans--including this one.

Many reviewers are hesitant to come off so enthusiastically, but I'm going to simply come out and state that I have nothing negative whatsoever to say about Raimi's Drag Me to Hell. It is a rollicking, non-stop rollercoaster of terrifying fun from beginning to end, and I plan on revisiting it often. I have not thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of a horror flick this much in a long time. The unabashedly geeky glee that this film has inspired in me is truly formidable.

For one thing, Raimi has proven that provided you hold off on too much blood, you can pretty much get away with anything and still squeak under the PG-13 radar. This movie contains so much that is truly revolting (in a good way) and disturbing that it amazes me the MPAA did not slap it with an R--we're talking vomiting maggots, corpses spewing embalming fluid, rulers shoved down people's throats, eyelids stapled shut, and that's only what I can think of off the top of my head. If you think Raimi's gone soft with the rating, think again my friend.

Alison Lohman is wonderful as the heroine of the film, almost coming across as a more evocative and effective version of Kirsten Dunst's Mary-Jane Watson from Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. Her signature scene in the graveyard--don't even get me started. Pure, iconic Raimi, and the girl pulls it off beautifully.

If I could compare this flick to anything Raimi's done in the past, I'd say it most resembled Evil Dead II, meshing gut-wrenching horror and genuinely funny gallows humor in equal measure. I'll be honest--I didn't expect this to be as much of a comedy as it was, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Because as with all the great horror comedies, it is as frightening as it is funny. Much of the splatstick is pure Evil Dead, and there is a seance scene in particular which will have fans of Raimi's classic horror trilogy squealing with glee. Talk about throwing a bone to the diehard fans! Fantastic.

Much of Raimi's signature camera work and splatstick sensibility is in full effect, if a bit more polished than in his earlier work. Also, the strings-driven score of the picture will give fans Evil Dead flashbacks as well. But make no mistake--this is no slavish nostalgia piece. Drag Me to Hell is a voraciously original and inventive piece of filmmaking, which can be enjoyed even by those who wouldn't know their Ash from their elbow.

The sense of horror-driven fun that pervades this film is infectious. This is the kind of film-going experience we fans long to achieve, but so rarely ever seem to. Raimi hits joyously on every brand of terror--the easy jump scares, the deep genuine dread, and of course, the gratuitous gross-outs. It's all here in a veritable cornucopia of shocker goodness.

My friends, Drag Me to Hell embodies what makes being a fan of horror cinema such a joy. See it immediately, and often.

And for a completely different yet equally enthusiastic look at Raimi's latest, proceed directly to Day of the Woman, forthwith!


Garg Unzola said...

Excellent! I tweeted this post.

RayRay said...

So, I take it you liked it?

KT Grant said...

So does the nasty demon woman get it in the end?

BJ Colangelo said...

in love love love with this film

Anonymous said...

Right on dude. The most fun I've had watching a horror movie in the theaters in a VERY VERY long time. A healthy dose of scares and laughs, just an all around great time. Did I mention completely original?

The only knock I had was some of the cheesy CGI (especially at the end). But overall, a great effort and instant classic. Welcome back indeed!

B-Sol said...

Yeah, I guess I did kinda like it... Katie, I don't really wanna spoil too much, but let's say the old woman goes thru some rather unexpected developments!
As for the CGI, ok maybe a touch too much (wish the eyeball scene was practical FX), but that's the state of the biz in 2009, whatcha gonna do??

I Love Horror said...

God, I wrote a review for this, too. This movie was so awful. I really don't understand how everyone liked it so much.

B-Sol said...

Yes sir, I have been well aware of your lone voice crying out in the wilderness. I'm sorry that you're unable to share most everyone else's joy over this movie. There's no pleasing everyone! Don't worry, we'll still keep you in the LOTDD!

Nick said...

Got to say, I was disappointed. Partly because the trailers gave no indication whatsoever of the comedy element, and then that the comedy sat so uncomfortably with the straight horror (in Evil Dead 2 the two meld beautifully, but in DMTH they're like oil and water). And then that it relied so heavily on sudden BOO moments in the straight horror sections, and then finally that the ending was a pure lazy copout telegraphed from a faraway land.

I feel mean for saying as much, but I went in with high expectations that I would have been happy to defend, and I feel I came out from a mess.

What I will say in Raimi's defence is that taken piecemeal, it's very impressive. Even the most obvious quiet-then-boo moments are expertly crafted and capable of drawing you in despite yourself, and the slapstick is classic Raimi slapstick. But put together they felt like the wreckage of two colliding movies... I wish they hadn't.

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