Sunday, October 18, 2009

Drag Me To Hell Review

Drag Me To Hell:
Directed by Sam Raimi
Released in 2009

For a movie that is poking fun at the current horror movie genre, Drag Me To Hell ends up being one of the best horror movies in recent memory. Its mix of campy violence, witty humor and genuine scares make Drag Me To Hell an entertaining, compelling film.

The overall premise is simple: Christine, played by Alison Lohman with a full committal to her role, is living a nice life until Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) comes along. This old, gypsy woman requests Christine for an extension on her mortgage. Christine decides to deny the mortgage in hopes of a promotion but Ganush, in her fury, casts a dark spell upon the poor girl, the curse of the Lamia. The Lamia stalks its victims for three days until finally bringing them down to eternal hell. Christine has no plans of eternal suffering and goes to great lengths to rid her of the curse. The film is brilliantly paced and just moves; this film will hook you from the beginning and not let go until the end. And what a finale; I could not have imagined a better way to end this movie and it combines equal parts humor and pure terror to leave the viewer shocked as well as satiated.

In a horror movie like this one, acting is not a field where this film will usually, or even necessarily have to, excel in. However, Drag Me To Hell has an excellent lineup lead by the lead actress, Alison Lohman. As an innocent girl with a (literal) hellish burden put upon her, she performs her part with a great mix of typical horror film naivety, pure terror and pissed-off badassery. Lohman even goes to disgusting lengths such as swallowing maggots in her full dedication to her role. Christine's boyfriend is played by Justin Long and is just what you would expect from him. He doesn't really believe his girlfriend's struggles and has bigot parents to boot. This role is not new for him but Justin Long is a likable actor and he fits the role with ease. As well, Lorna Raver as Mrs. Ganush is excellent without a doubt. Her makeup transforms her into a menacing, demented gypsy who haunts Christine at every turn. There is even an extended fight scene that involves her brawling with young Lohman. Clearly, Mrs. Raver put a lot of effort into her role. Another prevalent actor in this film is Dileep Rao who plays Rham Jas, the seer who can see Christine's troubles. He is a likable character who only has limited screen time but ends up being one of the few, real good guys in the film. Basically, the acting is better than expected and a big part of why this film is better than most horror films this decade.

However, what really sets Drag Me To Hell apart is its style. There is a certain campiness to it that was clearly the brainchild of Sam Raimi, the director, looking back to his early days of Evil Dead. The violence, especially for a PG-13 film, is shocking yet somewhat hilarious. At one point, Christine spouts blood from her nose like a fountain, with people around her viewing it as a minor distraction. Clearly, the violence is meant to amuse, not repulse. That being said, there are various forms of blood and bile liquid flowing throughout. Furthermore, its self-deprecating look at the horror genre actually lends it an advantage. Many situations are full of the typical cliches such as a dead flashlight, shadows under a door, or closet jump scares. It works though; this could be attributed to its excellent directing or driving pacing. It never plods along at a slow pace. Countering this humor and convention is real horror. There were many times throughout the film where I was actually creeped out by its Lamia spirit or Mrs. Ganush, even if I may have laughed at them afterward. All in all, it is very interesting how Drag Me To Hell blends comedy, parody and horror all into one creation that seems original as much as they may have been done before.

To sum up, Drag Me To Hell is a fun, wild film. It keeps you hooked, regaled and even spooked throughout with no time to breathe. Add in the surprisingly good acting and one of the best endings I have seen in recent memory and you've got one of the finest horror films of the decade. 

Final Verdict:
4 Out of 5 Stars

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