Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Drag Me to Hell (2009) Review

Drag Me to Hell poster
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, David Paymer
Genre: Horror, Black Comedy

With Sam Raimi directing, the man behind the Evil Dead trilogy, many were exciting. This was his first horror film since Army of Darkness, so many fans were oozing with anticipation to see this. Does Raimi still got it? Yeah, kind of.

The story follows a bank loan officer, named Christine, who denies an old gypsy woman an extension on her mortgage payment, even though she could have easily granted her the extension. She denied the old woman in order to impress her boss, in hopes of getting a promotion. Anyway, old gypsy woman puts a curse on Christine (as old gypsy women tend to do) and Christine is haunted by this curse, which makes her life a living hell, and she must try and find a way to undo the curse.

The plot is really nothing new. It borrows a lot of its elements from the 1957 British horror film Night of the Demon. But the film does have a moral, which is cool, though it's very simplistic. A women wrongs someone else for their own gain and then face the consequences. It's also very relevant to its era, showing the hardships of foreclosures and whatnot. Who isn't behind on their mortgage payments these days?

The film does have comedic elements in it, as Evil Dead II had. It's all intentional humor, and some of it is pretty amusing, but unfortunately no where near the level of amusement Evil Dead II provided. So of the stuff is obviously inspired by Raimi's earlier work, like the demonic goat, or the gallons of spurting blood. Even the old gypsy woman kind of reminded me of a deadite in a few scenes.

None of it is really scary. There's not much of an atmosphere, save for some parts in the gypsy house, or that graveyard scene towards the end. But a lot of the scares were very cheap. The thing is, Drag Me to Hell is not quite a horror film, but it's also not quite a comedy. So what is it? What is this film trying to be? I'd say it's more horror than comedy but I don't think it completely satisfies fans of either genre.

The old gypsy woman from Drag Me to Hell

Some of the effects were very impressive, but just as many were cheap CGI crap. Like all the scenes where Christine is fighting the old gypsy were highly entertaining and well done. But then there's other scenes with such obnoxious CGI and not even good CGI at that. Really wish they opted for non-computer generated effects.

Raimi's cinematography is actually very good here. You'd think it'd be hard for Raimi to keep bringing new and unique camera angles and shots with each of his films, but he manages. Some very cool camera work in here. 

The script is not terrible. There's some cool lines, but none of the characters are really memorable or developed. Let's call it a very average script. The acting is decent enough. Justin Long's face is in here, of which has been permanently burned into my subconscious ever since I watched Happy Campers.

I actually liked the ending. I can't really say much about it without spoiling it, but it worked.

Christine in Drag Me to Hell

There's some joy to be had in here, and it is worth watching just once. I can't say I didn't enjoy it. But when it comes down to it, it's really only something to watch because it's directed by Sam Raimi. Besides that it's pretty standard. I'm split on whether I should give this a 2.5 or a 3, it's probably somewhere in between there. I can only just barely recommend this one. Watch it once. 

2.5/5 stars
Pros:
+Has its moments
+Has good ending; presents moral
+Good cinematography
Cons:
-Doesn't do anything great, only okay
-Meh script
-Awful use of CGI
-Pretty typical film

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