Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review - Drag Me to Hell

A loan officer, Christine Brown rejects an old gypsy woman another extension on her home loan causing the woman to be evicted. The gypsy places a supernatural curse on Christine which will send her into hell in three days. Christine seeks the help of a seer in order to help rid herself of the curse before time is up. All the while, evil spirits try to drive her to a breaking point.

Director Sam Raimi returns to where he started by making another horror film that is sure to become a new classic. "Drag Me to Hell" is an absolute success and a really enjoyable thrill ride. Like most of Sam Raimi's previous horror films "Drag Me to Hell" is delightfully campy, had perfect scares and was well executed. I found "Drag Me to Hell"overall to be a completely fresh take on the horror genre while also being a nice throwback to Raimi's earlier days.

Sam Raimi and his brother Ivan wrote "Drag Me to Hell" together and the result is near flawless. While the story isn't anything new or remotely that involved, the Raimi brothers were able to successfully bring back to life a style of horror that seems to have been lost to the torture, ghost and teenage gore genre's of horror lately. The story moves at a great pace with quality scares, great laughs and a few plot twists along the way. Some of the film is a bit predictable, however Raimi does a capable job of trying his best to mislead the viewer. The film and script have great tension and the gypsy woman's curse definately sets an eerie tone similair to Raimi's earlier work with the Evil Dead franchise. Also in-line with Raimi's work on Evil Dead films, is the campy nature to the film. I was pleasantly surprised how many great laughs there were. I suspect you will laugh out loud a couple times, especially during the scene involving a goat (I won't spoil the line, but it is definately classic Raimi).

The special effects throughout "Drag Me to Hell" are exceptional. Raimi is able to keep some of the campy feel from his earlier horror work, but at the same time has taken his special effects knowledge from his more recent work on the Spider-Man franchise and infused them together. The effects throughout are vivid, well detailed and most of all scary! Most notably the gypsy woman's hankerchief does have a remarkable resemblence to the "Book of the Dead" from the Evil Dead films. I loved how the hankerchief would move as if it had a life of it's own stopping at nothing to torement young Christine. Furthermore, the scene where the gypsy woman actually puts the curse on Christine is outstanding. The tension is set very high with outstanding action being executed in a most superior fashion. I hope I am never stuck in an empty parking garage with a gypsy woman after me.

The leads of "Drag Me to Hell" do a knock-down job of helping to create an overall great movie going experience. Alison Lohman has never stood out for me before (more rather see has generally annoyed me), but she did a quality job of playing Christine Brown here in "Drag Me to Hell." Lohman was perfect as the unsuspecting loan officer who had no idea what she was in for when she denied the elderly gypsy woman. Lohman handles all of the scares well and furthermore, does a impressive job displaying Christine's evolution over the course of three days. Lorna Raver is absolutely terrifying as Mrs. Ganush, the old gypsy woman. Everytime she is on screen, she grabs your attention and has you hoping you never cross or shame her. The makeup department furthermore, created a dynamic look for Mrs. Ganush (those teeth are scary on their own) and when she gets mad, watch out. Lohman and Raver's complimenting performances really created an engaging terror-filled ride that was a real treat to watch.

The supporting cast doesn't particularly stand-out or deliver any notable performances, however they do fill out the film well. Justin Long plays Clay Dalton, Christine's boyfriend and his performance as the hesitant and reclutant to believe his girlfriend's predicament feels like a very standard performance for Long. Long who is quickly becoming type-cast in Hollywood, does a capable job in "Drag Me to Hell" and luckily his usual character did not have enough screen time to really damage the film in anyway. Dileep Rao is effective as Rham Jas the seer who helps Christine try to rid herself of the gypsy curse, as is Reggie Lee, who plays a rival loan officer at Christine's work who is gunning for the same job as her. Kevin Foster, Adrianna Barraza and David Paymer as previously stated all help to add to the overall development and enjoyment of the film.

"Drag Me to Hell" was a film that despite it being directed by Sam Raimi, looked like it wouldn't be a very good film. I expected much of the same crap that has come out in the horror genre lately, but instead I was treated to a outstandingly fun and terror filled film. Raimi clearly went back to something he loves and it shines through in the finished product. Credit the Raimi brothers for writing a great script, but more so doing such an excellent job with something that seemed to be very lackluster or nothing new. "Drag Me to Hell" put simply is a refreshing horror film made by one of the original great minds in horror.