Friday, May 29, 2009

REVIEW: Drag Me To Hell...

This is why I think Spidey needs to stay where he is.

Before hitting the mainstream like a rock wrapped in spider webs to the groin, Sam Raimi made his mark on the horror genre. Still considered one of the unsung gods of the horror genre, Raimi made such classic films as the Evil Dead franchise, is back to the house that made him who he is today, and it will hopefully he will take off his jacket to stay a while.

Drag Me To Hell follow Christine Brown, a loan officer, who has a disturbing run in with an elderly woman. Ordered to evict the woman from her home, Christine finds herself in the awkward position to bring this news to the woman. However, when the elderly woman begins to beg, she denies her, and is subsequently cursed by her. The curse begins to increase, and makes her life hell. In a loving relationship, a great job, and a world ahead of her, Christine is pushed to the edge by this curse, and Drag Me To Hell follows her fight to break it.

As I stated above, this is Raimi's return to horror, and it's about time that he put his stamp on modern horror. His previous classics, the Evil Dead films, were much more than your typical point, shoot, scare, repeat horror films. They had a great sense of dark humor, brilliant writing, and featured great performances. Well, Drag Me To Hell, while not perfect, is a perfect addition to his canon.

The biggest surprise of this film comes in the form of the screenplay. Packed with great lines, a sweet romance, and wonderfully colored characters, while it may not work for everyone (it's a bit 2D, like the mother-who-doesn't-like-son's-girlfriend), it keeps this film going forward at a wonderful pace. It does slow down right near the middle, particularly a scene in a shed that doesn't quite hit, but the end of the final act brings the pace right back to Raimi's patented breakneck speed. It's a camp fest that is the equivalent of watching a horror film projected on a fun house mirror. It's not a psychological thriller that will haunt you, but it will get you out of your seat, and leave you laughing in the aisles.

The film would, however, fall completely flat if it was not for the great performances, particularly a surprisingly realistic turn from Justin Long as the loving boyfriend. He's a psychology professor who doesn't believe in the paranormal, but when his girlfriend begins to be consumed with this curse, he throws his disbelief out the widow for his belief in his love. His relationship with Allison Lohman who portrayed Christine, kept the film grounded, or as much as a midget could keep a balloon filled with three tons of helium. Lohman is great here, and really does a great job keeping the film moving, and while not as good of a lead as Bruce Campbell, but does a great job, especially near the end.

Raimi may be the biggest star of the film though.

In some previous reviews, I have said that while the film itself may not be very good, seeing the lead actor chew up the scenery and just have a blast, really made the viewing enjoyable. Well, take that, put the hons on the director, and make the film phenomenal, and you have this. This is his return to what he loves, and he is clearly having more fun making this film than should be allowed. He takes this basic horror story, and throws the camp factor up to 3000, and lets the celluloid role. Not without style though. Sure, much of the CGI here doesn't completely hit, but he puts his camera right in the middle of action, as gruesome as it may be, and boy does it get gruesome. There are a few really well framed shots, and like the script and performances, the direction keeps the pace of this film going, minus one scene.

If you are willing to throw away your brain in the garbage while entering the theatre, this is easily one of the most enjoyable times you will have at the theatre this year. Normally this isn't my thing, but this ballsy head trip from Raimi is one that really can't be missed. Imagine a nightmare staring an acid consumed Bugs Bunny, and you will get this grotesque, frightening, hilarious, and dark masters class in camp cinema.


Go see something good!

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