Saturday, 13 June 2009

Drag Me To Hell

Horror returns in fine form ...

With a promotion on the line for the role of Assistant Manager, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is hoping to fill the position; however she has some competition for the role and decides to prove to her boss that she is capable of handling any situation with falls her way. One such situation arrives when Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), an elderly woman, arrives to appeal for a third extension for a mortgage on her house. Christine ultimately decides to decline the woman’s request resulting in the old woman cursing Christine to damnation.

It is a strange storyline it must be said, but it works regardless of how ridiculous it may become. For many years American horror has gone the route of a serial killer or psychopath tormenting victims, but few rely on the plot device of the supernatural. The film starts on a note of suspense and continues to its end in this manner, and the fact that Christine is cursed to go to hell in a few days ensures that horror does not remain sporadic, but the norm. Plot development flows allowing for Christine to shuffle her curse with her personal life: she is virtually in every scene so the audience becomes caught up in her life. That said there are no subplots to distract from the main story arc: Christine is going to hell and she needs to stop that happening. This is slightly disappointing in regards to narrative depth but the film has clear indications into commentating about society at large. Christine has to struggle with her choice and whether self-gain is more important than the well being of others. Additionally a discussion is created about whether putting on a certain image to impress certain people, changes who you fundamentally are, or exposes your true self. There are fascinating levels of depth to the linear storyline if viewers so wish to engage with the text, but if not the audience will still be greeted with a favourably pleasant experience.

The acting front is workable in the film’s structure: it is never of a high level but it is commendable in giving the respective characters some life. No one actor cements their presence but it is Lohman’s character that rightly gains the most depth. At first it is difficult not to dismiss Christine’s predicament, but the story and Lohmans’ acting ability allows a new angle to be considered. Relating to Christine is never easy: while she is not an entirely virtuous person, she comes across often as too stuck up for her own good. This runs well with the films thematic factor which Raimi is able to explore but it does lessen Christine's overall charazizaton somewhat.

Cinematography is a fairly interesting facet for the film with many scenes being presented in a 1980’s horror manner. This could be easily frowned upon but Sam Raimi, who is clearly appealing to fans of his Evil Dead series, has a keen sense for direction making for sharp scene interaction and crazy imagery. This creates some great moments of horror and complementary sly humour: it is a unique blend but Raimi gets it spot on and the comedy does not go to dim the horror’s effectiveness. If there is a problem it is that some techniques are a little overdone, but ironically the horror scenes only keep getting better.

Horror films usually have certain expectations on regards to content, but Drag Me to Hell seems to disobey such notions. There is no sex or nudity, and language is almost non-existent. Violence is triggered through some suspenseful showcases and while they do have a factor of being grotesque, they are hardly close in realization to the all out gore and sadism of modern titles.

Simply put, Drag Me to Hell is one of the most enjoyable horror films of recent times. It has an interesting, supernatural storyline with interesting characters; reasonably good acting, though it could have been stronger; and intriguing cinematographic design, even if a little overused. There is even well formulated social commentary which really adds wonders in allowing the film to appeal on an intellectual level. Raimi’s grip on horror makes for a great deal of suspense and the added humour only makes the film all the more devious. All this is achieved with a minimal level of objectionable content, making the film less conformist to the horror genre as it stands and showcases Raimi at what he does best. Though the shining achievement of Drag Me to Hell is that it does what a horror should: not just simply gross out the audience but rather aim to scare and entertain them.


Screen date: 12 June 2009
Release date: 12 June 2009


Farzan said...

Interesting review, for some reason I wanted to see it again after my first initial viewing. I thought it was a movie that had some replay value to it.

CruizD said...

You really should. saw it again on Sunday night and I still enjoyed it :)

Picking up the DVD of this one!

Betty said...

I am quite surprised after reading your review about this movie. My friends complained that its not a horror flick rather a comedy bluff which will only disappoint. This is the reason why I dropped my plan to watch it. But your review made me so curious that I wanted to watch it now. Thanks for sharing.
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