Friday, June 25, 2010

Drag Me to Hell

Directed by Sam Raimi.
2009. Unrated DVD Version, 99 minutes.
Alison Lohman
Justin Long
Lorna Raver
Dileep Rao
David Paymer
Adriana Barraza
Chelcie Ross

Plot: After denying a credit extension which would've stopped the foreclosure of an old woman's home, Christine (Lohman) is cursed to be visited by an evil spirit that wants to torment her for three days then literally drag her to hell.

The Good: Before bringing Spider Man to the big screen, director Sam Raimi was best known for being the creative force behind the cult classic Evil Dead trilogy. In his return to horror, he combines jump scares and gross-outs with creepy storytelling, black comedy, camp and thinly veiled metaphor to give us deliciously over the top recession angst. Visually, its a bit quirky and doesn't always have the best special fx, unlike his visual masterpiece Spider-Man 3 (ironically, the worst of that trilogy). However, since many will be watching through squinted or partially covered eyes while leaning back and cringing in their chair, it works. The old lady, Sylvia Ganush (Raver), who may or may not be the villain (that's pretty much up to you to decide) turns in an awesome performance.

The Bad: The basic construct of the story is a rip-off of The Ring. The main differences being our evil spirit here only gives you three days instead of seven and doesn't want to just kill you but to actually drag you, kicking and screaming to hell. Finally, Justin Long as Christine's boyfriend doesn't feel quite right in the role. He's supposed to be snarky and a bit of an outsider to the situation, which he is but I got the feeling he was just going through the motions, wishing he were more involved in the action.

The Ugly: Eyeball in the cake.

Recommendation: Though it borrows its foundation from The Ring, the building is completely different. Most welcome, it doesn't bore you to death by showing you the same thing about a hundred times (girl falling from cliff), act all self-important or give us a super silly solution. In fact, the ending is not only courageous but happy or tragic depending on your point of view. I have no qualms about saying this is arguably the best American horror movie of this decade.

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