Sunday, May 31, 2009

Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Fear 4/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

The buzz around this movie has been building like gang busters for the past 2 weeks. Reading early reviews on other horror sites and blogs, rekindled my interest in the film. I guess now that I'm older, I've gotten a little curmudgeonly averse to new mainstream horror movies coming out as the never ending slew of remakes continue to parade theaters. Needless to say, I didn't have a lot of hope (initially) for the film. So did Raimi's new pic deliver the goods? It sure did and it gave a much needed shot in the arm to the horror genre (at least in terms of big studio, produced for the masses horror films).

From the trailer alone, one can decipher the synopsis: a loan officer is looking to make a name for herself as she desperately wants to obtain an assistant manager position within her branch. Her boss basically states that she needs to have some more cajones and begin to show that she can make the 'tough' decisions. A little old lady comes in, on the verge of losing her home and is seeking an extension on her payments (oh what a sign of the times!). The loan officer denies her extension, the old bitty puts a curse on her, and its all fun, honest to goodness jolts, and well executed laughs from here on out folks.

Naturally the rest of the movie is spent with the loan officer being tormented by a demon that is sent along to carry out the curse. She basically has 3 days to live, with each day becoming increasingly more and more violent. In order to enact the curse, the old woman had to take something of hers (in this case a button from her coat) and pass it along. As it goes, the demon comes to take the button as its now his property and in the process of claiming it, she would be taken to the land down under.

What is so original and refreshing, is not only the story, but the comedic timing and all-out, good ol' fashioned scares that Raimi so adequately dispenses and employs. My 34 year old buddy who saw it with me was jumping in his seat right along with me. And the theater goers followed suit and simultaneously laughed aloud and groaned during certain scenes (I'm looking at you, corpse vomiting!).

The only knock on the film that I can give is some of the CGI used (especially at the end). But overall, a great effort and return to form for Raimi. Welcome back good sir.

Cortez the Killer
* * * * *
Fear 1/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 0/5
Well, I can't say that I am surprised that Drag Me To Hell is more Three Stooges and Looney Toons than it is "a return to horror" as the marketing for this would have you believe. Most of his films are pretty slapsticky and cartoony. I can say that I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would and that, somehow, I actually felt concern for the main character who has a series of just really bad days. Maybe it's because there's some cheese going down at my job that I am not into, but I was truly hoping that things would work out for her at her job and in her life.
So, as Cortez mentioned above, this is really more a comedy film than a horror film and I generally don't like horror-comedy. And like I say, it's very cartoonish, and I don't mean the copious and slightly cheap use of of CGI - I mean that there is a scene where and anvil is dropped on someones head with comic results. But it mostly works and there are some good, if expected cheap scares, a couple of icky scenes (mainly involving corpses as stated above) and I laughed a few times and jumped a bit from time to time.
I like the way Raimi's films look - he has a style that is unique and Drag Me To Hell is classic Sam Raimi in terms of aesthetics. The jumpy cameras, the quick close-ups, the floating gymnastic demons, etc. etc. Sure, you've seen most of his tricks already and he's clearly recycling what's already proven successful for him - but isn't that the draw?
Overall, a fun movie with some cheap scares, some cheap laughs and a decent amount of cheese slathered over the top. Put it this way - if you're more partial to nachos as an appetizer than, say, marinated Spanish olives - you'll really dig Drag Me To Hell. I like 'em both.
- Complaint Dept


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