Thursday 28 May 2009

Review: Drag Me To Hell

Year: 2009
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenplay: Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long

Film Synopsis is here

I'm not going to talk about Sam Raimi's last film because you's been spoken about enough. I will say I was surprised that Raimi decided to jump back the genre that made him famous. It's been a very long time since his last entry and I thought he'd be placing script touches on a comic book character that I'll say not too much about (this is not to say i minded the third film it was just weak).

I had so many reservations about Drag me to hell, most of them stemming from an "ok" trailer and the hyperbole posters/T.V spots that I began to see all over the place. I wanted to watch the film but when I'm told that the film is a "return to form" and my most hated word in film (next to overrated) a "masterpiece" I felt that this is a lot of praise for a film that looked pretty underwhelming to me at first glance.

Well Sam Raimi must knew that there would be assholes like me that may watch this by shutting my mouth in the first ten minutes. Drag me to hell is a horror film that pulls no punches from the start. The film is unrelenting from the start, giving us a frantic set up that reminds us of the best of Raimi. He had me from the start I tell you, and I tell you what, it's been a long time since I've seen a horror movie with such big brass balls. When a child is dragged into the depths of hell within the opening scene I know I'm going to love the movie.

It's ballsy scenes like that which place a film like this above the glut of horror remakes/reboots. It's willing to go against the gain and display imagination. That dreadful feeling of "been there done that" is missing from Raimi's film with it's possessed hankies and nose bleed fountains. While the film's style owes a lot the films which made it's director famous, it never feels derivative of a certain infamous trilogy that came before it. In fact it's so fresh i kinda hope people start to nick from it; be it the crazy tilted angles to the vast amount of gross out moments. It's what's needed to cut through the dreary dead teenager movies that have been trust upon us.

The films shocks (and there's a few) are not only creative but effective. I'm not a fan of horror zingers (jump scares) has I find them to be cheap, especially in one note films like A Haunting in Connecticut. With this said, Raimi's jump moments are cranked with so much tension he pulls of the scares with ease. The bizarre camera shots, the fantastic use of sound to create anxiety (and not just for boo moments) even make the scenes in the day time feel....odd. This is a director having fun with himself as well as the audience and it shows.

Another thing it has in common with Raimi's earlier movies is the comedy that counterbalance the horror. The film is so damn funny I had tears running down my face. Yes the films scares are well constructed but it's the slapstick (morbid) humor that comes after that really won me over. With more money and a hell of a lot more freedom Raimi is once again allowed to torture his lead (Lohman at her most innocent and sympathetic) and does so with gusto. It's been a while since I've seen him in this sort of mood and to see it again is nothing short of awesome. It's a mood that gives us a story that doesn't have to resort to a high body count to give us horror.

After 22 years Raimi goes back to the pure genre movies that made him famous and I found it the best comic horror I've seen in ages. It's definitely the best horror film I've seen this year, and will take some beating. In an era of some of the most dull uninspired American Horror on offer, I found Drag me to hell to be the kick up the arse the genre needed. Raimi brings forth a film that's not only laugh out loud funny but filled with more than enough shocks for repeat viewing. I only ask for one thing....when is it out on DVD?