There is no filmmaker out there today quite like Sam Raimi. His style is unrivaled in its insanity, combining cartoonish camera tricks and angles with enough brightly colored bodily fluids to make even David Cronenberg take pause. His ability to fall into any genre while still maintaining his crazy style (as he proved with The Quick and the Dead) is so great that I would see any movie he makes, no matter the genre (bring on the Merchant Ivory films, Sam Raimi!) So many people thought he was an odd choice when announced as the director of the Spider-man series, but anyone who had seen Army of Darkness or Darkman could vouch for his ability to bring comic book styles to life. Once he had taken on the Spider-man series, people out there began to wonder if Raimi would ever return to his horror roots.
He answered them with Drag Me To Hell, one of the most insane and original horror films to come out in a very, very long time.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a bank loans clerk who has struggled every step in life to get to where she is. She’s kind, compassionate, and has a caring boyfriend (Justin Long) who wants to marry her. However, she’s not a shark. She always wants to help her customers who are suffering from hard times, and it’s about to cost her a promotion. So, when an old woman comes up looking for a loan extension, Christine decides to deny the woman. Of course, when the woman turns out to be a gypsy mystic who has cursed Christine with the Lamia, a demon that will drag her to hell after 3 days of torment, things sort of spiral out of control quickly.
The only word I can use to aptly describe this movie is insane. It takes a typical horror conceit, the gypsy curse, and jams a needle of adrenaline right into its heart as each scene tops the last in horror and hilarity. A typical jump scare scene (the gypsy appearing in Christine’s back seat after leaving work) transforms into a Three Stooges skit on crack as Christine wildly crashes into things, fights off the gypsy with a stapler, and must keep track of the old woman’s flying dentures. Bodily fluids of every color, variety and consistency are constantly dumped all over Christine (particularly in her mouth) as she fights off the effects of the Lamia and progressively begins to lose her mind. Raimi found a real trooper in Alison Lohman, as I doubt there are many actresses as sweet and innocent looking as her who would be that willing to be covered in so much… goo. The fact that she brings a sense of believable strength to her role also makes her one of the most sympathetic and relatable women of horror in recent years.
Drag Me to Hell is a disgusting, hilarious ride that manages to prove that not only can horror still be fresh, but that Sam Raimi is without a doubt one of the kings of the genre.
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-- Matt Carter
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