Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on Drag Me To Hell

I'm not going to go into a great deal of depth because there is a possibility I will have to review this again later in the year (more on that... um... later in the year) and don't want to rehash it all again.

That said, it is problematic but very enjoyable, especially in a movie theater, which feels like the only way one should watch this film. I really did like it a lot and found it a very fun date movie (something I've very rarely been able to say about any horror movies this decade). The lead actress, Alison Lohman, hindered the film at several places where she very visibly didn't seem to know what to do. Raimi has a very distinct style of camp that requires a very specific style of over the top camp (as Edward pointed out in the previous comment board) It was never Téa Leoni bad, but their were flirtations towards that realm. Still the character did manage to walk the line between being someone you care about and someone you can enjoy watching put through the slapstick abuse (and oh yeah, Raimi doesn't go soft. She get's smacked around just about as much as Bruce used to, rest assured). The subplot about how she is trying to turn her back on her southern roots is particularly amusing when her accent creeps through in certain moments of duress. It's an almost Cohen Brothers touch (there was a lot of early collaboration between the three, as well as actor Bruce Cambell). While the problem is a lack of camp in some moments with Lohman, it is ironically quite refreshing to see Justin Long (great porn name, by the way, but it must have been hell working with Kevin Smith because of it) get a goofy but straight dramatic role. I hope more people give him a chance, because he was quite likable in this.

As for the film itself, it is refreshing in its effort not to rely on gore. Instead it goes for grossing out (think of a PG-13 Pink Flamingos) with bile and mucus and slime and other such fun things you wouldn't want in you mouth. In addition to grossness, it's a jump scare film to end all jump scare films, and this is where it gets problematic. Its almost a love letter to jump scares, they are everywhere and the amazing thing is they mostly work even though they are everywhere. It's a strong argument that jump scares seem cheap because people sell cheap jump scares and that they're is a still quality to be found if them if executed by directors with talent. Still they do almost become annoying in their endless onslaught. The secret to many jump scares being the sound scape, this film latterly beats you up in the theater. It's like having a trashcan thrown over your head and being bashed repeatedly with baseball bats. This film is not for people with heart conditions! The opening is in particular a bit forced in its pacing, showing just how aggressive the demon is by making it raise all hell (literally) the moment someone tries to test it. You just want more breathing time, more effort to make the story creepy in itself (like The Orphanage for example, or The Gift to draw on another Raimi film) but then again, this is Evil Dead II territory, it's about having fun with horror, and it does that. It's hard to describe the style of this fun, for it's not like Shaun of the Dead or Fido, but very much a strange mix of John Waters glee for the gross (though not sexual in this case) mixed with the Cohen's cruelty. Another film I've repeatedly thought of for some reason is Death Becomes Her, which it really isn't like at all beyond that sense of being very dark and yet very fun. It's a film to laugh with and jump through and just be silly while watching.

Drag Me To Hell proves that a pg-13 movie can be scary, even if it isn't exactly scary itself. A better actress and less CGI, and this would be unquestionably one of the best horror comedies and even flat out horror movies in many many years. Viewers going in should realize that its high praise and love is as much for what it represents as what it is, and in some ways more the latter. Torture horror and the kind of bleak hardcore horror that the French have been leading in have had their run, but its time for them to go like J-horror before them. I'm not saying gore must end, but I think a lot of people look forward to horror lightening up a little while still being good. Drag Me To Hell is a suggestion of where horror can go in the coming decade for its next phase, and personally, I'm stoked if it happens, but only if people improve on what Raimi has offered instead of offering more feebler fare. Hard R horror was needed in response to Hollywood fodder like The Haunting remake, and I don't want to see a simple relapse back into that crap.


(Huh, I guess that wasn't super brief. Oh well.)


Blogger Edward Azad said...

Glass-half-empty guy here! Raimi is pretty much a relic and is not likely to reproduced by younger directors.

The slasher genre is dead. Done. Played out, Kaputski.

The psych horror genre is divided into halves: poor rip-offs of superior horror films, and the gory ones where moviegoers flock to see teens and naked whores getting killed (admittedly, I still get freaked out by Final Destination, but I can see how others would view those movies as painfully weak).

12:29 AM  
Anonymous omair said...


mickeal jackson last dead photograph.

ok magzine pay 500000 dollar for the dead photo of mickeal.

5:53 AM  

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