Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Directed by Sam Raimi
There was some ying but no yang.
That's the best way to describe my feelings towards Drag Me To Hell. I too was excited by Raimi's returning to his horror roots. So going in and finally watching this, I was a little hyped. But as I watched the movie I noticed something that bothered me.
I couldn't watch the movie without flashbacking to what I liked about Raimi's other flicks. Evil Dead series, Darkman even Spiderman.
And then it hit me. Drag Me To Hell was making me remember everything I love about Raimi's work except one thing.
It didn't have a hero (or in this case a heroine).
And this is why I'm going to give it the rating I give it. And I'll explain why.
A loan officer ordered to evict an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse, which turns her life into a living hell. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.
The critics can't be wrong right? 92% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is on numerous top 10 lists and praised by numerous mainstream horror sites and the blogosphere. OK here is where I become a salmon and swim against the current. I'll tell you what I liked, what I didn't like and just because I know everybody saw this, I'm not going to rehash plot and shit. I will try to just summarize my thoughts with Evil Dead quotes...hopefully you won't throw feces at me after reading this review.
"I know now that my wife has become host to a Kandarian demon. I fear that the only way to stop those possessed by the spirits of the book is through the act of... bodily dismemberment."
-Voice on the recorder
OK lets go through the awesome shit of Drag Me To Hell. The Lamia demon is pure mega-rific Universal monsters fun. All the great Raimi's angles and closeups and wicked camera movements are in full effect. Raimi going back to solid basics is always good stuff. Adding to the effect are all the awesome shock scare moments. Pure, vintage Raimi.
Rattling pans, curtains fluttering, shadowy glimpses, window breaking and the best jump scares are all back in action. From gushing bloody noses and mouths to gypsy lady in a closet and anvil droppings. All good shit. Eye popping action, flies on our lens, talking goats. Yay. I also really never get tired of regurgitation in my horror comedies. The entire sequence as Christine fights off Grandma Ganush in the car is brilliantly yummy. No complaints. Keep the poop in check for now.
Henrietta: I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul!
Ash: [Aims shotgun at Henrietta's face] Swallow this.
Alison Lohman as Christine does a decent job screaming and just has that Pam Beasly look to her. Act tough! Act scared! Act concerned! Act loan officer-ish! Justin Long is OK as the everyday guy who is clueless but Dileep Rao as Rham Jas gives us a good ole seance guy and makes us believe the demonology.
"Then let's head on down into that cellar and carve ourselves a witch." -Ash
OK. Here is why I think the movie lacks. The problem lies with Christine. She never goes into hero mode. Not even an anti-hero mode. I'm not looking for her to be Ash or Spidey or Darkman but I need her to believe that the forces of evil are real. Each of Raimi's other heroes BELIEVE in the impossible, the supernatural and the tech. And then they kick the shit out of it.
With all the devlish demons of hell tormenting Christine, she still seemed surprised by it all. Oh yes, she believes eventually but towards the end Rham Jas asks her to repeat the line: "I welcome the dead to my soul" and then Jas tells her "You must believe it! It's like Christine was playing the "this is still not real" perception even after everything that happened to her.
My main point is this. Christine continues to play the victim until the very end (and we know what happens at the end). It's debatable to speculate if she deserved what happened to her but I needed her to fight back. Be the heroine, femme up and be a pseudo vintage final girl. Instead, she pays 10gs and hires backup.
But Raimi is also at fault. He built up a high octane demon vs medium seance then unleashes a deux ex machina on us which of course is to give the button to somebody else, thus passing the curse. This is what he ends the movie with which is like a roller coaster going to its highest point then dipping down at 200 mph. I mean who didn't see the envelope switch. It was rather obvious. But that's not the point.
The point I'm trying to make is were suppose to have good vs evil. It's what makes a good horror movie. Yes you can make the hero grey or muddled, possibly even non likeable but there is suppose to be a give and take. A ying and a yang. Demon attacks, hero fights back. Hero fights back, demon attacks. Ultimately good triumphs over evil (though I do love when evil wins too).
The fact Christine suffers and gets attacked and only waits until the end to metaphorically load up her chainsaw with some mediums do we get any fight from her. As a character, Lohman plays her as sympathetic but fuck it, she's not. She screwed the old lady and deserves the shit that's coming to her. She probably is the cause of the entire United States economy going into a depression. Damn banks and loans lenders can go straight to hell as far as I'm concerned (pun so well intended)
Drag Me To Hell is vintage Raimi but it shows off his rust as he comes back into the horror genre (OMG! You guys just threw poop at me didn't you?) I did love some of the moments but as I said I think we encountered a few hiccups along the way. If you step back and think about the film, you'll see what I mean. Throughout the entire movie I wanted Sylvia Ganush and the Lamia demon to drag that money grubbing bank employee to hell.
I gave her a chance of survival of about 10%. Why?It's not like she's a hero or anything.
You know the rest
Ganush can kick ass
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
So I'm giving Drag Me To Hell 2 spinkicks. And no, its probably not making my Top 10 list of 2009. This is what I thought and you can brand me a Raimi traitor if you wish. I just didn't think the movie was spectacular as everyone else did.
OK, let me know what you think. I can take it. But please, no more poop. Don't you have tomatoes?
Check out the trailer below.
DRAG ME TO HELL: Movie Trailer - Watch the best video clips here