Theatrical review: Drag Me To Hell

It is a rare thing for a big box office director to return to their B-movie roots – could you imagine Peter Jackson making a sequel to Bad Taste after finishing Lord of the Rings? Yet this is exactly what Sam Raimi has done, post Spiderman trilogy, with his return to horror in Drag Me To Hell.

phn3jnow3wzysn

large_4

Released: 27 May ’09
Certificate: 15
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenwriters: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, David Paymer, Dileep Rao
Distributor: Lionsgate Pictures
Running Time: 99 mins

It is a rare thing for a big box office director to return to their B-movie roots – could you imagine Peter Jackson making a sequel to Bad Taste after finishing Lord Of The Rings? Yet this is exactly what Sam Raimi has done, post Spider-Man trilogy, with his return to horror in Drag Me To Hell.

The film tells the story of ambitious loan officer, Christine Brown (Lohman). In a bid for promotion and to impress her boss, Mr Jacks (Paymer), she makes “the tough decision” and repossesses the house of gypsy woman Mrs Ganush (Raver). As a result, Christine finds herself cursed by the old woman to three days of torment before a powerful demon known as the Lamia claims her soul and literally drags her to hell.

The plot is pure shlock, reading like a combination of Stephen King’s Thinner and countless J-horror movies. While the script by Raimi and brother Ivan is fine, if little more than functional at times, what lifts this film up above similar fare is the sense of enthusiasm and fun Raimi brings, as a director, to the proceedings.

Raimi is clearly off the leash enjoying his time playing with his own creation rather than a certain stringently studio controlled web-slinger. The whole film has a deliriously manic glee infused through every set piece that recalls Raimi’s last two Evil Dead movies.

The film itself suits the title of Raimi’s production company, Ghost House, taking every opportunity to leap out at you and shout “Boo” loudly in your face. While this could get tiresome if you’re expecting ‘serious’ horror, those that are willing to embrace the fun house/Looney Tunes-esque slapstick aspect of the proceedings will enjoy the ride. This is Evil Dead 2 gross-out dark comedy horror instead of Hostel-style torture porn.

It’s not without its flaws; the pace is unbalanced and even for a genre that traditionally cares more about the gore than characterisation, the acting lacks empathy. Alison Lohman is occasionally engaging in the lead role yet it’s hard to shake the feeling Kirstin Dunst was not available at the time of filming.

Despite this, and a slightly bungled predictable ‘twist’ finale, Drag Me To Hell is a welcome return of roller-coaster fun horror, something to be enjoyed rather than endured.

Verdict:

A frenetic, gross and darkly slapstick trip into Hell. Fans of Army Of Darkness era Raimi will love this.