Drag Me to Hell (2009)






THE SCOOP
Director:  Sam Raimi
Cast:  
Alison LohmanJustin LongRuth Livier

Plot:  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. 

Genre:  Horror / Thriller
Awards:  -

Runtime:  99min
Rating:  PG13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language. 


IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)

Sam Raimi’s return to horror filmmaking is a cause for celebration.  After three consecutive 'Spider-Man' movies, it is about time for the talented director to revisit his roots.  The creator of the cult horror film The Evil Dead (1981) and its two sequels, Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) makes a successful comeback with Drag Me to Hell, an original and brilliant addition to a genre that is in need of a revival.  It is one of the best horror films ever to come out of this decade. 

Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, a loan officer who refuses to grant a third property extension to Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), an old, creepy woman with a fake eye, leprous fingers, and rotten dentures.  Christine is then cursed by Mrs. Ganush to burn in hell for eternity after three days.  The lamia, a demon of sorts, haunts her day and night, forcing her to take extreme measures to try to break the curse.  The plot on its own reads out like a generic storyline for a standard horror film but Raimi’s execution and direction is far from ordinary. 


Raimi’s mastery of the camera is evident.  His shots are constantly moving, coming from different angles and points-of-view.  And when the camera zooms in on Christine in a frightened state, it is never a perfect rectangular still shot; the camera tilts left or right several degrees as if mirroring the lead character’s descent into madness.  Raimi
is also back to his old tricks again and that is good news for cultists who worship the 'Evil Dead' films. 


There is comedy in the horror, a sub-genre that the director has made his own nearly thirty years ago.  His signature shocking, grotesque, and downright laugh-out-loud scenes are there to savor.  Those unfamiliar with Raimi’s style of horror-comedy will find the film an exercise in silliness. 


The establishment of mood is paramount to horror filmmaking.  Raimi understands the mechanics of the genre a
nd fully utilizes everything in the book.  He recruits famous horror film composer Christopher Young to produce a Gothic-like score which is both beautiful and chilling at the same time.  Raimi triggers jump scenes (there are plenty) with the skill of a hunter going for the kill.  


The sound design is astounding, creating a dreadful atmosphere through the occasional eerie silence punctuated by frequent bumps, creaks, and spine-tingling shrieks.  If the film ever gets an unlikely Oscar nomination, it would likely be for sound mixing or editing. 


Raver’s portrayal of Mrs. Ganush is scintillating, creating a villain so scary that an early suspense sequence set in a basement car park is stuff of nightmares.  Although it is well-made, Drag
Me to Hell may be an experimental effort by Raimi, something to test the audience before he remakes Evil Dead for the new generation.  


One can sense that this movie is going to be special when the silent classic 1980s Universal symbol appears rather than the heroic fanfare that accompanies the modern version.  From that moment onwards till the clever ending two hours later, you are at the mercy of one of the most gifted practitioners of horror cinema. 


GRADE: A-






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