Saturday, June 13, 2009

Drag Me To Hell [2009]

Fifteen years ago – if you mentioned Sam Raimi – you’d peak the interest of movie fans that fell in love with the Evil Dead series. These days, if you bring up Sam Raimi – you’d conjure up thoughts of the Spider-Man series – and the giddy-ness of fanboys and girls or eye rolls of people who used to love Raimi before he “sold-out”. Sam is back in the horror genre but has his recent promotion to the blockbuster arena ruined those roots?

Christine Brown is desperate for the Assistant Manager position - which is open at the bank she works at. When an old woman comes in pleading with her to save her home – Christine is given the decision to turn her away and impress her boss or to extend the loan and appease her good nature. Christine decides to turn her away but after work the old woman attacks Christine – and curses her. Christine seeks out the help of a psychic after the attack – and discovers she has 3-days to rid herself of the curse – or be dragged to hell.

What I really liked about this film was that Sam Raimi had not lost a step since doing the Evil Dead series almost 20 years ago. The film had a lot of the same techniques that were used throughout the Evil Dead series – but now he has a budget to play with – so there was even more! There was a lot of creeping in the shadows and slime and stuff that you’d find in a much lower budget film – but used quite adeptly in a bigger budget ‘jump out and scare you’ film.

I also liked how the story progressed – the tension was real and it was coming at you – and she’s got 3-days to get it resolved so the desperation was thick. The story turned up the tension – and then brought you back down wondering if she was finally rid of the curse – then it built up – making for a fun ride. I liked the concept – with the gypsy curse – the haunting – the possession and the blood sacrifice – it’s not all original – but far more interesting than the gore-porn-torture-horror that has become the trend.

What I didn’t like was one sub-plot that involved $10,000 – I can’t see how it came into play. I did nip out to the washroom right as Christine was first starting to raise it – and got back right when she was eating ice cream – but that was 3-minutes – so I doubt I missed a ton – but when it came down to it – I couldn’t tell what it was really for. The person they were desperately raising the money for – didn’t seem like she really required money to do what they wanted her to do. It felt like a pointless sub-plot.

The final act was also a bit of an embarrassment – fairly predictable as I felt like they gave it away too easily – and it sucks it didn’t really grab you the way they meant it to grab you. Allison Lohman as Christine was also off key in several scenes. One line in particular stuck with me as being particularly odd – when she turned towards a character and simply stated, “I’m scared”. It was odd because she didn’t sound scared – she sounded as if she was announcing that this was the way she was acting. It’s a movie – show me – don’t tell me.

So, after you read this – you are expecting me to give it bad marks – but to tell you the truth I did like it. It’s a pretty good film – it’s certainly not without some flaws – but it’s still in the conversation of best 10 horror films of the decade. There are plenty of good scares – and a lot of creepiness that makes this film really work as good summer fun.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

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