Drag Me To Hell Review: One Hell Of A Ride

May 22, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

DRAG ME TO HELL: On General Release Wednesday 27th May 2009.

We’d had some good times, Raimi and I.

Evil Dead was the quintessential honeymoon period with wit and thrills aplenty, and his classic, fan-perfect take on Spider-Man only served to intensify the obsession. Sure, Spider-Man 2 was a bit of a wonky patch, but we got through it. I still cared.

Then came Spider-Man 3. The cinematic and emotional equivalent of being dumped. On the internet. While he filmed himself violating my childhood hero with a treasured, framed photo of my granny.

Spurned, miffed and more than a little traumatised, I thought that was it.

But oh sweet Jesus, he’s only gone and made me fall in love all over again.

Drag Me To Hell is a balls-to-the-wall roller-coaster ride of a movie that sits you down, straps you in and then unleashes 90 minutes of relentlessly hilarious, scary and visceral schlock-horror with inexhaustibly entertaining results.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a darn-shucks, all American sweetheart working as a loans advisor. A vegetarian who works in a puppy shelter in her spare time, she’s pretty much the most inoffensively sincere do-gooder you could hope to find. Until her boss infers that to grab the promotion she really wants, she’ll have to grow a pair.

Enter gnarled, toothless and glass-eyed Mrs. Ganush, an elderly gypsy who desperately needs one more extension on her mortgage repayments to save her home. Christine’s kindly but stern refusal inadvertently dooms her to one of those peskily non-refundable gypsy curses, and she then has three days before the demon Lamia comes to literally drag her kicking and screaming down to the titular necropolis.

From the pulse-pounding, intense opening salvo, it’s obvious that this is as faithful a throwback to the legacy and influence of Evil Dead‘s mischievous thrill-ride as you’re ever going to get, and it’s safe to say that Raimi’s masterful handing of genre conventions doesn’t ever let up.

If you’re not laughing at the gross-out splatter (look out for the Loony Tunes-esque Anvil moment – sheer comedy gold), then you’re jumping at everything from an excessively violent poltergeist to a demonic hankerchief with all the terrifying presence of a Charles Manson/Jeremy Kyle sex show.

Which is usually when you start laughing all over again.

Flung around, beaten up, spat on and receiver of enough oral explosions to put Deep Throat to shame (seriously, the vomit scenes – and there’s many – make the racist grannies from Little Britain look like they’re hiccuping), the sheer physical abuse that Lohman is subjected to shows borderline masochistic dedication to the role and makes each attack genuinely jumpy and adrenaline-pumpingly terrifying.

There’s none of the subtle social commentary or subtext that we’ve come to expect in modern – noticeably underwhelming – horror movies and it’s all the better for it. A good old-fashioned, straight horror tale, Raimi has proved he’s the true master of cark in your seat shocks and deserves your respect once more.

All is forgiven Sam.

Just never mention that Spider-Man jazz scene ever again.

Matt Risley

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