If You Haven’t Already Seen Drag Me to Hell, You Must Change That IMMEDIATELY
June 30, 2009

This past weekend, when I wasn’t screeching like an enthusiastic howler monkey at the passing drag queens in the Pride Parade, I managed to finally get my ass into the city and I finally caught Drag Me to Hell.  Needless to say, I loved it.  In fact, quite frankly (bad pun alert CODE RED!):

drag me to hell

I mean, I could be biased, and by “biased” I mean “completely lacking in taste, good judgment, and (quite possibly) sanity.”  After all, I did find Spider-Man 3 curiously entertaining in a campy, train wreck sort of way; so much so, in fact, that I saw it three times opening weekend. Then I bought the DVD.  My only rationale is that I find the musical numbers fascinatingly out of place with the rest of the film.  That, and I wrote the handbook on making good choices.

My point is that Sam Raimi, even in his missteps, displays an incredible understanding of genre and how to manipulate it and push it to the brink of shlock and camp without it becoming something eye-rollingly ridiculous (in the not-fun way).  He’s capable of taking genre filmmaking seriously without making it laborious; his direction always has levity to it, and Drag Me to Hell is by no means an exception.  

The plot is simple enough: Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, a well-meaning loan officer determined to leave her small-town past by climbing up the ladder at her bank.  In a bid for the open assistant manager position, she refuses to grant a mortgage extension to a sickly old gypsy (Lorma Raver), gets cursed by said gypsy, and spends the rest of movie being tormented by a goat demon (yes, a goat demon) that will in three days time drag her to hell.  Gross-out gags, tons of scares, and darkly comic humor with the perfect touch of B-movie camp abound.  You can’t necessarily argue that Sam Raimi’s aiming for art with Drag Me to Hell, but it’s impossible to deny that he’s made an incredibly smart and rather merciless thrill ride.  

The scares, while mostly of the easy boo! variety, are at least genuinely earned by the way Raimi builds a mood of dread and suspense, and the ending is simply jaw-dropping perfection.  The second the film cut to the closing credits, I blurted out, “Holy shit!” like I’d just gotten a rather nasty case of verbal/real diarrhea.  It’s just that exceptional in execution.  Drag Me to Hell is, as was advertised in the trailer, a return to true horror.  Oh, and best of all?  Raimi’s created a wonderfully rich and intriguing Final Girl with Christine.  

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Sweet Mercy, I’m Beyond Excited for Drag Me to Hell
March 13, 2009

I essentially know Sam Raimi, as a director, by his Spider-Man movies.  The first is a delightful pop experience.  The second is, behind The Dark Knight, probably the best comic book movie we’ve ever gotten.  The third is a genre-bending hot mess, a movie as intriguing as it is muddled.  I regretfully fell asleep the one time I tried to watch The Evil Dead (in my defense, it was very late when I started the movie), but what little I saw did manage to sufficiently freak me out, so there’s actually no regret as I avoided giving my subconscious further nightmare fodder. 

But I’m also a masochist who enjoys making bad decisions, so color me giddy to see the trailer for Raimi’s return to horror, Drag Me to Hell:

I’m flabbergasted at how utterly incredible this movie looks.  Obviously Sam Raimi is just going for it, and I suspect, when all is said and done, American horror will (briefly) be the better for it.

Normally, when a trailer makes some bold proclamation like “THE RETURN OF TRUE HORROR” or “VISIONARY DIRECTOR OF 300,” you chalk this up to the studios just trying to sell their product.  With lies.  Standard issue Hollywood protocol, really.

But I don’t think Universal is obeying that time-honored advertising protocol.  I think they may be telling the truth.  Zoinks!

Perhaps this is just the shock of seeing a horror movie that not a remake of an American horror movie, a remake of an Asian movie, derivative of either subset of the genre, or part of the Saw franchise.  Sure, there’s a touch of Thinner with the gypsy-curse plot, but at least this movie doesn’t look to reek like a stale, uninspired fart.  

Added to that, it’s rather brilliant counter-programming for the summer release schedule.  Here’s a movie that doesn’t involve robots in a post-apocalyptic future, robots that transform, or boy wizards.  Instead we get seances and Alison Lohman being tossed around her kitchen like a rag doll.  

And one creepy looking gypsy. 

Sign me up, please.

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