Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: "Drag Me to Hell."

I have three words for you: "Ho Lee Crap!" Sam Raimi (and co-writer, brother Ivan) is at the pinnacle of his game with his triumphant return to horror, Drag Me to Hell. I kid you not when I say Drag Me to Hell is certainly the best horror movie of the last 20 years, and quite possibly the best since The Exorcist. And all of it without a single profanity or exposed nipple.

In case you haven't already read anything about it, Alison Lohman (Big Fish) plays Christine Brown, a sweet, farm-raised gal working as a loan officer in a big city bank. Looking to win a promotion - against an egotistic tool named Stu (Star Trek's Reggie Lee) - Christine decides that playing hardball is the way to go and denies a mortgage extension to a creepy old gypsy woman (wide-ranged character actress Lorna Raver). The inevitable curse ensues and Christine has three days before she is dragged away to eternal damnation by a goatish demon named Lamia. Apple commercials' cutie Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers; Live Free, Die Hard) is Clay, Christine's skeptical, albeit adoring and supportive boyfriend, who thinks she's suffering from post-traumatic stress. Newcomer Dileep Rao plays the seer Christine consults for help and Spanish Language TV veteran Adrianna Barraza plays the medium who has faced the demon before, and lost.

Within the first five minutes of the film, Raimi grabs you by the balls and never lets go. Loaded with Raimi's eye-popping visuals, extreme gross-outs and cartoonish violence, Drag Me to Hell is what Evil Dead II would have been with a Hollywood budget. Raimi's infamous and fantastically weird tracking shots and trademark outlandish physical effects (Christine takes as bad a beating as Ash ever got) all help make Drag Me... quite possibly a perfect horror movie. Hilariously funny, exceptionally gross and over-loaded with shocks which, even though you know they are coming, are still really shocking; Drag Me to Hell is the work of a master artist, rediscovering what made him love what he does in the first place. Raimi's eye for detail and ability to build tension have never been on better display, and his cast of mostly unknowns are more than willing to go along for an amazing rollercoaster dark-ride. The score by Christopher Young (Hellraiser) is brilliantly deceptive and adds tension in unexpected places. The effects are top notch and I was pleased to see a small homage to Poltergeist, near the end (hint: "The swimming pool! The swimming pool!!!!").

I saw it with my my cast, all of whom loved it as much as I did. We screamed, cringed, laughed and carried on the way every good horror movie should make it's audience do. I think it is important to note that like every terrific movie, no matter what the genre, Drag Me to Hell is meant to be seen on a big screen with a great sound system and an audience filled with screamers, cringers and laughers. Do NOT wait for Blu-ray. Get your butt (and a load of your friends' butts) down to the local Cineplex and see this movie! See it now! See it, see it, see it! And take someone you want to jump into your arms. They will! The most fun I've had at the movies in a ages. This is the movie Horror fans have been waiting for, for a very long time. Thank you, Mr. Raimi, for finally giving it to us. The only thing I missed? The obligatory cameo from the legendary Bruce Campbell (unless some slyer fox than I caught a glimpse of him, somewhere).

***** (Five Stars). Rated PG-13 for 'Intense Horror.'


Matty said...


Mrs. Pine said...

word! can't wait to see it!!! and i'll look for bruce, too!! i am so going in the next few weeks with my girl mel...thanks for the great review!!

Sam Juliano said...

I saw this on Saturday as part of a double feature with UP (talk about one extreme to the other) and found it terrifying, and superlatively-crafted. i fully share your delirious enthusiasm! Ms. Lohman, by the way, was excellent in the lead.