Mr. Raimi, I missed you.
I saw the Evil Dead series somewhere around the age of 17 or so and ever since then I’ve been in cinematic love with Sam Raimi. In the past few years, however, this adoration had dulled over the plethora of Spiderman movies that had come or are to come; I never much cared for Spiderman and I watched the flicks primarily for (who else) Bruce Campbell’s cameos. Yawn.
Drag Me To Hell is a gooey, oozing horror flick that’s a marked return for Raimi to the genre. Equal parts funny and frightening, it’s a very tight piece of movie making.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a Midwest farm girl escaping from her roots by moving to a big city, losing her accent and desperately trying to get ahead. When her boss at the bank informs her that he needs someone to make “tough decisions”, she denies an elderly gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage even as the woman begs and pleads with Christine to save her house. After work that evening, the gypsy woman hunts Christine down and attacks her, placing an ancient curse on her that will result in Christine getting dragged to hell in three days.
Raimi relies on jump scares and gross scenes but goes easy on the gore. It’s effective but never tiresome. If you’re paying attention, Raimi telegraphs the gags before they pop up, but even then my theater had grown men popping out of their seats in fright and screaming like little girls. Some of Raimi’s signatures are evident in the film; the classic Oldsmobile pops up and you can definitely recognize Raimi’s style. (Bruce Campbell for once doesn’t cameo.) Allison Lohman and Justin Long (as her reticent professor boyfriend) are wonderful, with Long being surprising given the fact that he’s popped up in a variety of roles that often border on irritating.
It is definitely a throwback to the horror movies of twenty years ago; Raimi even opens the movie with the ’80’s styled Universal logo, a logo which incredibly stirred up a lot of nostalgia in me. The movie itself is bright and colorful, with a brilliant score and soundtrack that will stay stuck in your head. (The sooner they offer it on iTunes, the better, because the soundtrack will stay on repeat on my iPod.)
More than anything, I give points to Raimi for tying up all the plot points nicely as well as making a movie open to interpretation. While on the surface Drag Me To Hell is a curse-flick, quite a bit of the imagery and repetitive themes of the movie can lead you to different meanings if you let your mind stretch and wander a bit if you’re willing to dig that far.
It was worth the $9.50 Younger Sister and I paid and more. It should be noted that Younger Sister has relatively no clue who Sam Raimi is or had very much of an idea of the Evil Dead movies before we went into the theater, but I think it’s safe to say that if I tell her that I have a Sam Raimi movie to watch, she’ll watch it now. We were both suitably happy with the film and judging by the grown men sitting beside us that nearly tore out of the theater in terror, the rest of our audience enjoyed it as well.