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Drag Me to Hell

drag_me_to_hell_choke2

Thank God for Sam Raimi.   In an era when most, if not all, scary movies are sadistic, nihilistic, disturbing and shocking, Raimi reminds us that there is another way.   A better, healthier, more enjoyable way to be terrified, grossed out, and entertained.   Bless you, Mr. Raimi.  

 

Remember when you were a kid and you’d go to the amusement park, and there’d be that scary ride, the one with things that jump out of you and eerie sounds coming out of the corners?    You knew it was all fake, and after the first time, you even knew where the scary bits were.   But you went through it again anyway, and again, because it was fun.   

 

Or remember the camping trips when you’d sit around the campfire and tell ghost stories, trying to get a startle and a giggle out of each other?   The stories weren’t really scary, but they were fun to tell anyway.  And nobody had nightmares that night in the tents.   It was all good fun.  

 

This is the spirit director Sam Raimi brings to “Drag Me to Hell.”   Creator of the “Evil Dead” series and maker of the “Spiderman” movies, Raimi returns to this horror roots with energy and verve.  “Drag Me” is not as campy or satiritcal as the Evil Dead series, and it’s certainly bears the mark of slicker productions, but it never stops having fun.  Not for one moment.   It’s one of the most enjoyable movie experiences I’ve had in quite a while.   

 

Yes, it’s scary.   Sort of.   Really it’s more “startle-y” than anything.   Things jump out at you; and you jump and scream a little and giggle a lot.   Part of the joke is that most of the time, the things jumping out are pretty innocent.   Raimi gets a lot of mileage out of a lacy handkerchief.  One of the best freakouts comes from a series of pots and pans clanging together.   There’s almost no blood, and astonishingly, very little CGI (from what I can tell.)  Raimi knows how to suggest instead of show: we never see the demon who’s haunting the poor girl; the mot we see is some freaky looking people possessed by the demon.  And, yeah, they’re kind of scary.  Enough to sell the scene.  But they won’t be haunting your nightmares.   

 

Hoping to gain a promotion at her bank, Alison Lohman denies a crazy old gypsy an extension on her mortgage.   The crazy old gypsy takes it personally, and curses her.   (She also tries to bite her, but her false teeth fall out, and Lohman gets one of the worst, slobberiest gummings in the history of crazy old people.)   A demon is coming for her, in a matter of days, to drag her to hell.   In the meantime, he’s just going to make her life hard and punch her every now and then.  Ouch.  

 

Lohman’s boyfriend, Justin Long (the “I’m a Mac” guy – and watch: almost every scene he’s in has an Apple product carefully displayed) doesn’t believe in all this hoo ha, but gives her the money to consult a medium anyway.   The medium tries to help, but can’t, really.   It’s hard to reason with a demon from hell.  He’s still coming for her.   

 

That’s about as far as I want to go with the plot summary, not because enjoyment of “Drag Me to Hell” depends on plot twists, but because even as I type it up, it doesn’t really describe the movie accurately.    Lots of movies these days ask you to take seriously the existence of mediums, and curses, and demons, etc.  I always get a little itchy watching these, because, to some extent, I do take such things seriously.   Curiously, “Drag Me to Hell” comes as a relief, because it asks, practically begs, that you see all this as devices for a good scare and some laughs, and nothing more.   There are lots of great, intense scenes, grossouts, scares, and weird stuff in “Drag Me to Hell,”  but there is never one, no not even one, truly serious moment.   It’s all a joke.  A story you tell around the campfire.   A funhouse ride.    Nothing more.   Enjoy it for what it is.    I sure did.  

 

Recommended

  • if you liked the Evil Dead series. 
  • if you think horror movies should make you laugh, not give you nightmares. 

Not Recommended

  • if you really love the “Saw” series, and/or other sick and disturbing horror flicks.
  • if you think “horror” and you think gallons of blood, naked chicks, etc. 
  • if you frighten really, really, easily.   I mean super easy.   
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  1. April said

    Pretty good post. I just came across your blog and wanted to say
    that I have really liked reading your posts. Any way
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