Monday, June 08, 2009

REVIEW: Drag Me To Hell

Drag Me to Hell

Year: 2009
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

The film had a positive screen test awhile back and I have heard nothing, but good things coming from this movie. Just take a look at and you can see the film sitting at an impressive 93%, which is really astounding considering its a horror flick. I never really hated Spider-Man 3. I mean I thought it was a disappointment compared to the first and second film, but I never hated it. It just wasn't as cohesive and special as the previous two. The real reason behind that is not going to get disclosed here, but maybe Ill post something about it later down the line. I didn't think much about the trailer, but it wasn't bad either.

Plot Outline:
Determined to impress her boss and get a much-needed promotion at work, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) lays down the law when mysterious Mrs. Ganush literally comes begging for mercy at her feet. In retaliation for being publicly shamed, Mrs. Ganush places the dreaded curse of Lamia on her unfortunate target, transforming Christine's life into a waking nightmare. Her skeptical boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) casually brushing off her disturbing encounters as mere coincidence, Christine attempts to escape eternal damnation by seeking out the aid of seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao ). But Christine's time is fast running out, and unless she's able to break the curse, she'll be tormented by a demon for three days before literally being dragged to hell.

Drag Me to Hell features an interesting concept that I wouldn't necessarily call original, but more like amusing. Director Sam Raimi and writer/brother Ivan Raimi worked on the script soon after Spider-Man 3 was done filming. Though the idea has been with Sam and Ivan since the Evil Dead days, it wasn't until after Spider-Man 3 where Sam felt he needed to take a break from web slinging, and focus more on the horror genre. Drag Me to Hell is every bit as Raimi as the Evil Dead movies were. Hes directing is top notch and so is his camera work. The performances are their and so is his sense of humor. I would really call this a comedy with horror elements rather than a horror flick with some laughter. The film is hardly scary, but their are some scenes that will definitely give you a jump. Raimi is so good at keeping the suspense their and some of the scenes definitely show this. What I really enjoyed about this movie was the fact that it was so entertaining. Its really rare these days that you walk into a horror flick and end up having a fun time. Usually people come off scared from the movie or un-pleased that it wasn't scary enough, but its totally different in this film. It has horror, comedy and suspense right in front of you. Their were some scenes in my opinion that probably should have been left out due to how silly it is, but it hardly ruined the experience. I also thought the ending was pretty cool. It makes the audience think that its officially over than comes back to kick them in the balls when they weren't expecting it.

Alison Lohman plays as the main character of the film, Christine Brown. This was first going to be played by the lovely, Ellen Page. Page dropped out of filming simply because it conflicted with her schedule (she was shooting another film). Than Raimi casted Lohman which I thought was a great choice since she has that innocent look in her eyes. Lohman gives a good performance that I really liked. Her character was definitely someone you could relate to and cheer for. Justin Long plays as Christine's boyfriend, Clay Dalton. He does a good job in his role and I liked him playing that boyfriend type character. We have the talented Lorna Raver playing as Mrs. Ganush. She gives a very good performance as Mrs. Ganush and one that was really entertaining to watch. Shes creepy, funny and somewhat disgusting at times. I thought her character was interesting and It would have been awesome if we would have gotten some back story on her. Dileep Rao plays as a fortune teller named Rham Jas.

The visual look of Drag Me to Hell is pretty great. The special effects in the film are somewhat mixed. Their are a few scenes where the special effects can tend to look too much CGI rather than art and its surprising because we have come along way in terms of technology, so rendering creepy shadows shouldn't be a problem. Except for those few scenes, the effects are generally good. The film does have some slight grain in the image, but I'm most certainly sure that director Sam Raimi did this on purpose to make the film seem like a classic horror. Hell, we even get the old Universal logo at the beginning of the film which was a surprise to me. The films color palette is somewhat vibrant at times, but also slightly dark in some spots. Black levels are pretty damn strong and exhibit a deep amount of solid black levels. Flesh tones seem natural and are spot on perfect. I didn't notice any micro-blocking or scratches. Detail is also on the strong side with alot of the scenes showing a good amount of detail. Close up shots - which their is a ton of - show alot of pores. Facial hair also being noticeable especially on Dileep Rao's character.

The soundtrack in Drag Me to Hell is really good and definitely makes the film experience a whole lot better. The films original music is done by Christopher Young who also scored some hits in the past such as The Hurricane and Wonder Boys. His music definitely fits the mood and atmosphere of Raimi's horror flick. Not only does it go so well with the films atmosphere, but its a score that I found to be memorable. Other than the score and some sound designs, we don't really get much in terms of other various beats. The bass is also pretty darn strong in this classic Raimi horror. Just like last years The Strangers, Drag Me to Hell packs a solid amount of ambiance and smooth fluid. Their are some intense scenes such as the beginning and the final part at the end, that deliver an aggressive amount of bass. This is a film meant to be heard on a nice step up because its really immersive. I wouldn't call it reference material when compared directly to The Strangers, but its definitely better than most horror flicks these days.

Drag Me to Hell is an entertaining yet funny film. Its clearly Raimi at his best which is a good thing especially after coming off something disappointing such as Spider-Man 3. I felt the story was engaging and worked for the most part. I still think the marketing for the film wasn't the best considering its more of a comedy mixed with some horror elements instead of a traditional horror slasher. Still, Sam Raimi delivered and I'm now interested in seeing what he can do with Spider-Man 4. The cast was great and I thought everyone delivered solid performances. I do wish that Bruce Campbell made some sort of an appearance, but I guess Its alright this time since he was busy filming his hit show, Burn Notice. The visual look of the film was pretty good, but the CGI effects weren't the best I have seen. I went in expecting another lame horror slasher, but was surprised that it was entertaining. Those horror fans looking for a scary film will be disappointed. Id recommend it if your looking for a fun film.

Grade: B-


micky said...

will check it out farzan, i love evil dead

Jaccstev said...

Good review Farzan, I really enjoy this film. Fight in a car scene is very very hilarious and memorable. However, the ending kind of make me sad for Christine and really hating those damn envelope and button.

Farzan said...

You should definitely check it out Micky, I think you might like it.

That fight scene in the beginning was pretty funny. The ending did make me alittle sad because it would have been the perfect ending for the story, but I liked how Raimi turned it upside down and kicked us in the balls when we weren't expecting it.

CruizD said...

Great review!

Not entirely my view of it (such as a comedy with horror elements as you mentioned)but I had my eyes on this for a while and was pleasantly surprised.