Considering Sam Raimi's influence over the horror genre, it can be weird to think that it mostly derives from three movies, two of which are a major topic of debate since they are kind of the same movie. The Evil Dead trilogy, arguably better named the "Bruce Campbell wisecracks while fighting Deadites" trilogy, was a gonzo fest in which horror was made into a delight and the terrors were as much about jumping out of your seat as an excuse to toss out an effortless homage to the Three Stooges. When the trailer for Drag Me to Hell promises "the return to true horror", few Raimi fans were expecting some major testimony to the power of creepiness and slow build up. No, instead, we took "true horror" as a code word for "Let's all go to the movies and have a good time".
And a good time I did have [fellas, take note, my wife did not have a good time, but she tolerated it for me]. A few seconds into the movie, we get the first "dragging into hell" and that sets us up for a lot. Once a movie has already stated it will drag children to an enternity of torment for stealing a necklace, what hope do any of us have? It seems quaint, if not borderline antediluvian to have various gypsy women dish out eternal pain in exchange for what seems to be a minor amount of pecuniary mishap. Sure that one necklace may have been awesome, and that family house may have been awesome, but sending someone to hell? That's just being trite.
With this, presumed purposefully, thin-as-paper plot; Raimi weaves a constant roller coaster of screams, flashes, smashing pans, vomit, joking, comedy routines (the old anvil trick!), crying bankers, spewing blood, wet t-shirts, and animal sacrifice. We have Justin Long introduced in a room with more than one Mac, and he uses an iPhone. After running to her bedroom, the main character turns around and we see a poster of a cat hanging from a rope by it's claws with "Hang In There!" underneath. The fact that this animal looks just like a certain soon-to-be target of a hasty-made sacrifice is only an additional reason to laugh uncomfortably. There is a dancing "deadite" scene, a talking goat scene, a gumming scene, and the things that get blasted in the main character's mouth include maggots, flies, embalmbing fluid, eye balls, and what appears to be rotted brain fluid (note, right after the screaming eye scene, she eats a whole thing of ice cream, which might just be a pun?).
If there is a complaint, it is simple, the CG effects lacked some of the gonzo charm of the old, cheaper ones that Raimi had at his disposal in the Evil Dead series. If it is going to look a little fake and over the top either way, why not explode plastic eyes at someone instead of CG ones? Minor quibble, but it makes the movie Good more than Great.
Just to finish this up, any movie that telegraphs it's "twist ending" so readily to the audience, as if the director is going "*wink* you know what's going to happen, right? Let's watch..." needs a looksee, if you like that sort of thing. This movie was made by a fan of horror for fans of horror, I feel, and it shows. My face cracked into a smile when someone screamed "That's just fucked up!" at the screen as credits started rolling. If you have doubts, go and look up clips of Evil Dead 2 on YouTube. Oh, before I go, I have some bad news: no Bruce Campbell cameos. Awwww...
Si Vales, Valeo
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Written by Doug Bolden
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