Friday, May 29, 2009
"Drag Me To Hell" Movie Review
Guaranteed Spoiler Free!
I figured I would take my 11 and 12 year old sons with me to see the new Sam Raimi flick "Drag Me To Hell", especially since it's rated PG-13. Having basically grown up with the Spiderman franchise and blowing their minds by having them view "Dark Man" earlier this year, they were psyched to see another Raimi production. I also groomed them over the years to have at least a sense of respect for the horror genre. Some nights, as I'd pop "Night Of The Living Dead" or "Halloween" in the dvd player, I'd beam as a proud father as I watched them from afar with their little faces frozen in fear as they took in some of my favorite scary movies from years past. Still, as we walked into the theatre, I could see some nervous glances coming from them, uncertain as to whether they would survive the hell they were about to witness. The result as the credits scrolled up the screen? We had an effin blast!
Revered as a true master of horror after he dropped "Evil Dead", "Evil Dead 2" and "Army Of Darkness", fans have been eagerly awaiting Raimi's return to scary movies, especially since he blew up and became known to the masses as a bankable blockbuster director. From the opening scene, Raimi lets you know exactly what you're in for. Simple, brutal, blunt, loud and to the point, you know that beyond the confines of the safe little "real" world we live in, there are evil scary things laying right beyond the edges of reality, demons waiting patiently for any of us simple mere mortals to fuck up, eff around with the wrong ancient artifact or the wrong person to unleash or catch a curse giving them a pass to enter our world, long enough for them to exact all types of hellish fuckery and what not on that unsuspecting ass. Catch the right curse, best believe those devilish bastards will be taking your twisted ass back home with them, leaving your torterd soul to squirm in fiery damnation as you eternally burn in hell.
You've seen the commercials and the trailers, you know whats next. How the cute Blonde bank loan officer Christine Brown (played by Alison Lohman) decides to play heartless as she denies the elderly gypsy woman Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) an extension on her delinquent mortgage payments which will result in the bank seizing Ganush's home and leaving her homeless. How Mrs. Ganush curses Lohman with a special express one way ticket to Hell. How Lohman catches it every which way as supernatural forces torment the remaining moments of her life, how she desperately enlists the support of her boyfriend Clay Dalton (Justin Long), fortune teller Rahm Jas (Dileep Rao) and trusty exorcist in waiting Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza) to help her out of this jacked up predicament. Believe me, I can't give anything away about this piece, not because I don't want to but because there's nothing more to it than what you already know. No twists and turns, no "I didn't know it was him that did that" kind of moments, no surprise endings. None of that. Written by Raimi and his older brother Ivan, "Drag Me To Hell" is one of the simplest movies, plot-wise that you will see in a very long time. And that friends, is a very very good thing.
Raimi didn't need anything to stand in his way as he created this masterpiece. Not even an R rating. I admit I was disappointed when I initially learned of the movie's pre-teen friendly rating but since 1981 when his first movie "Evil Dead" changed the game, Sam Raimi never let me, let us, the movie goers down. I knew for sure, with his return to horror, that "Drag Me To Hell" was going to be entertaining. And that is exactly what this movie is, pure unadulterated entertainment. No over the top blood and gore, even though the movie goes over the top and will gross you the eff out, especially since Raimi goes all juvenile and sophmore-ish with the gross out scenes, filled with so much wet nasty shit that you'd never want to witness and experience in real life. No over doing it with trying to scare you shitless, even though I jumped more than a couple of times as things went bump in the dark, in the night, and even during some very bright sun-light filled shots. Yes, you will be jumping, and jumpy through the entire movie as Rami lets loose with the frights and the chills. I was also concerned about some of the special effects and cgi scenes that were featured in the trailers and commercials. I hate movies that rely too much on obvious cgi special effects, maybe because the outcome always comes off looking way too fake for my liking. Raimi applied just the right amount of cgi, even where it looked like it might be too much, too fake even, but it all made sense, maybe because what was transpiring on screen was so god damned way out that the cgi made it all make sense, brought it back to Earth. You'll understand when you see this.
What I didn't expect when I copped the tickets was how funny this movie was going to be. This movie is straight certified comedy, people in every aisle laughing loudly and almost throughout the entire movie comedy, EVEN as we jumped and screamed and ducked from the thrills and scares. And not funny in a sadistic "damned she got eff'd up" way. Or that nervous laughter to let up on the horror intake. I'm talking purposefully funny, in how the characters react to situations, the things they say, even as they say them with straight faces, and yes, even the way she and they get physically assaulted. I haven't laughed this hard at the movies since last summer when I peeped "Pineapple Express". I remember when I first saw "American Werewolf In London" and being blown away at how John Landis was able to deliver the perfect combination of comedy and horror. At the time, I thought that movie would forever be the best of that combo. No more. "Drag Me To Hell" snatches the title for "funniest horror movie" as it compromises nothing in it's delivery.
As the final credits rolled, with me, my boys and the rest of the audience clapping, still laughing, still marveling at the horror we just witnessed, still taking in all the understated over the top moments and regaining our senses as we prepped to re-enter the real world, when lights came back on, I realized that what we all shared as a collective audience after this short and sweet gem was over (99 minutes in length) was nothing but sheer fun. Without shitting on the seriousness of the genre while at the same time, not taking said genre nor himself too seriously, Raimi once again demonstrates why he's a master of his game. I might have felt a bit guilty as I tortured my boys when they watched "Halloween", might have crossed the line even when they sat through "Nightmare On Elm Street", but none of that guilt, that 2nd guessing myself took place here. This movie should fall under the category as being a funny entertaining piece that incidentally happens to be a horror flick. Without going too far, I'd venture to say that this movie provides full "wholesome" entertainment for the entire family, kinda in that roller coaster amusement park kinda way. I urge you all to run see this. Bring the entire fam (get a sitter for kids under 11), make this that first date joint, take your moms even. Even those that hate scary pictures, please see this and trust that you haven't been entertained like this in a long time.
Back in 1981, when he was an unknown independent director unshackled by the constraints of Hollywood and its suits, then 22 year old Raimi went buck wild and held nothing back as he and his brother Ivan had fun shooting "Evil Dead" on a shoe string budget. Watching "Drag Me To Hell", it's so obvious he had just as much fun making this, like he was 22 again, only with a bigger budget. "Drag Me To Hell" will definitely make you feel like a kid again. And in a very good way.