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Published on May 29th, 2009 | by simeon

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Drag Me To Hell

By Jenna Pitman

I’m just going to be honest. Drag Me To Hell is the movie we would have seen 22 years ago had Sam Raimi been given several million dollars, had Bruce Campbell been a woman and had there been no chainsaws handy. Not that this is a bad thing. I believe that Raimi fans will be quite pleased to see the cult and blockbuster director’s return to his roots.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a soft-spoken loan officer competing for the open position of assistant manager at the bank branch she works for. She has a predominantly sunny life with her boyfriend, Clay Dalton, (Justin Long) and a new kitten.

When an old woman in an Oldsmobile (Lorna Raver) comes to beg for an extension on her mortgage, Christine is unaware of how much her ideal life is about to change.

Desperate to impress her boss and prove her prowess over the only other candidate, Christine refuses the woman help. Angered and shamed, the woman curses Christine, calling upon the demon Lamia (voiced by Art Kimbro) to torment her for three days and then damn her soul.

Acting upon the advice of a Seer (Dileep Rao), Christine struggles to free herself from this terrible fate. She alienates herself from Clay’s parents, sacrifices her cat, participates in a séance, crashes a funeral, defiles the dead and is eventually forced to choose whether or not she can in turn damn her business rival.

But I wouldn’t want you to start thinking that you’re dealing with some far-too-serious classic horror revival (not that that would be a bad thing). Let’s not forget the projectile blood and vomit, the mud and maggots, the stapler to the face and ruler to the back of the throat; all done in that comical slapstick that only Raimi can produce. The utterly gory, disgusting images that make you laugh hysterically while simultaneously cringeing in disbelief. This is the stuff that made him a cult hero.

There are certainly some creepy moments, quite a few in fact. Things that pleased the horror fan in me very much. And there are plenty of scares to be had as creatures and characters launch themselves from the shadows. I only jumped a couple of times (and I scare easily) but that might have been due more to the people sitting around us than the movie itself.

Drag Me To Hell opens with a classic Universal logo, one that hasn’t been seen since the 70s. It was so appropriate that as soon as I saw it I was sure I was going to walk away happy. Then the opening credits began and I was blown away. They are so absolutely gorgeous that they almost deserve to be a short of their own rather than find themselves pinned to a feature. The special effects continue to be a remarkable strong point throughout the rest of the movie. Several scenes blew me away with their execution and look.

When it comes down to what was missing, characterization was the one thing this film lacked. I didn’t feel very connected to any of the characters and certainly didn’t care about their plight. It seemed rather two dimensional. The characters are barely introduced and we aren’t ushered into their lives and minds before the action begins. We are just expected to care.

On top of this, Lohman’s acting wasn’t the greatest and Long, while doing a decent job, didn’t seem to fit the role terribly well. The cat-sacrificing didn’t go far for making me feel any sympathy toward Christine or her dilemma. This was all very disappointing since I feel as though everything else was so strong that had this been reinforced rather than left flat it would have been exceedingly excellent.

But it is worth a watch. If you love anything by Sam Raimi you will not be disappointed and if you’ve never seen any of his work then you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. This is one of the few things I have ever watched that was exactly what it promised to be.

Thank you, Mr. Raimi, for this excellent return to horror. We are all grateful.

3.5 stars out of 5


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