Monday, October 19, 2009

Drag Me To Hell

This review has passed through quite a few stages of contemplation and I even thought that it would be better, if I didn’t bother and just keep my jumbling thoughts to myself. Halloween is on its way, so I had to reconsider. In general I am concerned with horror as a movie genre to have become more of a torture porn experience rather than host some chilling stories that can scare the wits out of me. “Drag Me to Hell” offered the goose bump thrill ride in theory with a trailer that drove me hysterical with anticipation. Trailers often create expectations and when a release date is far in the calendar, these expectations become an obstacle for the flick to do what it is meant to do.

Such is the case here. After the long waiting for the premiere and then the agonizing months for the Bulgarian release I have already began to refer to “Drag Me as Hell” as the ultimate horror title without having watched it yet. Was it awesome? Yes. Was it THE greatest? Eh, no. I got the dream plot line. A young woman is cursed to be dragged to Hell in three days time by an old gypsy woman and the events follow this young woman, Christine Brown [Alison Lohman], as she tries to break the curse, but in the mean time is hunted by the demon sent to her by the gypsy, Sylvia Ganesh [Lorna Raver]. There is poltergeist activity as well as physical manifestations, nightmares and séances.

With a budget of over 30 Million dollars the attention to details is flawless. Everything from settings to special effects has been handled with immaculate care and professionalism, which for me makes a supernatural movie of any sort. I am more or less visually stimulated creature and the execution of CGI is of personal importance. I enjoyed that aspect of the movie and all the gross moments created nausea, the scary moments frightened me and the funny moments made me chuckle. However did I feel terrified from start to finish? Not exactly, because there is some sense of predictability to the movie as “Drag Me to Hell” doesn’t add anything new to the genre. And that’s the disappointing quality that stained my expectations. I hoped for a lot more gore, a lot more intensity and innovation. What dragged as well was the mythology. The Lamia is a mythical figure from ancient Greece that has nothing to do with gypsies and in Bulgarian folklore the Lamia is reptilian dragon-like creature that sleeps in caves and enjoys snacking on innocent adolescents or virgins. There is no reference to Hell or gypsies, which was a downer for me really.

In the end of the day Raimi has written and directed homage to a subgenre of horror movies, which have fallen into oblivion and misrepresented. He has taken all those classic elements I have seen in all the movies, comic books and stories before and polished them, repaired them and assembled a brand new, slicker version of it. There is nothing wrong with that and I still enjoyed “Drag Me to Hell”. I never would have believed that a fabric handkerchief would be so menacing and fill me with dread, while at the same time now I can’t look a goat straight in the eye and not chuckle after the séance scene. Actress Alison Lohman perplexed me with her acting. One moment I am excited about her performance and the next she is a bit stiff, but that is more or less subjective. I was glad to see Justin Long as Professor Dalton and Christine’s fiancé, in this production, simply because I like the dude as a person.

As a conclusion “Drag Me to Hell” is creepy and at the same time there is built-in comedy relief and it’s a campy production that I would love to watch again with friends. With a 92% fresh given by Rotten Tomatoes I think that a lot of people share the same sentiment, by which I am astounded, because I can rarely agree with anybody on the movies that appeal to me.

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