Many a fanboy has been waiting for the day that Sam Raimi was going to put down the comic books and get back to what he is known for . . . HORROR MOVIES! Well the day is upon us. Just caught Drag Me To Hell in a midnight showing and have to say that Raimi is back in form.
Drag Me To Hell stars Alison Lohman as Christine Brown a loan officer for a bank that is trying to work her way up the ladder. When she turns down an old woman on extending her house loan to show her boss that she can be tough the old woman puts a gypsy curse on her that has her at first questioning her sanity and then fighting for her immortal soul. Seems pretty simple and sometimes simple is best. We follow her as she tries to find a way to get rid of this curse and stop what ultimately will be her soul burning in hell for all of eternity.
This is Raimi’s first foray back into horror since The Gift and many were wondering if spending all his time on the Spider-Man films would soften his horror style. And after this movie was hit with a PG-13 rating I was worried as well. Was Raimi getting soft on us? NO! I have said many times that PG-13 movies could be scary. They just have to find the right balance. This movie stands out as an example of what you can do in a PG-13 arena and still be terrifying. There is no over the top gore, no needless nudity (but I never complain about that), and no need for an R rating. It’s easily a story that can be told as a PG-13 movie and be effective.
I thought Alison Lohman and Justin Long put in great performances. And Lorna Raver, who played the old gypsy woman, did a great job of terrifying all of us right from the get go. For this Raimi also went back to his tried and true camera work and editing. Lots of quick zoom cuts and of course the famous Raimi-Cam move made some appearences but were not over used. This movie starts off with the scares right from the start and doesn’t let up. Raimi does a great job of creating tension and letting it build until it just explodes on screen. At certain points he builds things up with thundering pounding and almost shrieking sounds and then it will fall dead silent just giving the scare that much more power. The sound design on this film is fantastic.
I actually looked over and saw Uncle Randy grasping the leg of his shorts in a tight fist as he had to grab onto something. The scares in this film are magnificent and will keep you tense throughout. It is almost a relief when you get to a scene that you know is more for comedic effect so you won’t have to worry about being so tense. And speaking of comedy Raimi is famous for putting comedy in his horror films. He does so again but not to the detriment of the film. When the demon posseses a man and starts to do a happy little dance you chuckle a little but ultimately it adds a darkness to the situation as you realize “This demon thinks this is fun.“ While she’s battling for her soul he’s laughing his ass of and dancing.
I highly recommend that every horror fan go see this film. Remember what it was like for horror films to be fun and a great ride? This film is a return to that formula for Raimi. And even though I am interested in what he’s going to do with Spider-Man 4 I want him to go back and dabble in horror some more. It’s been far to long.