Review: Drag Me To Hell

Oh, Sam Raimi, you fought so hard to be the director of the Spider-man films, and they were such a disappointment: cheesey; clich├ęd; unrealistic; full of bizarre setpieces; funny when they should have had pathos; serious when things were happening that it was impossible to take seriously; completely lacking characterisation; unable to maintain one sense of tone or type of direction; in short, everything that made Evil Dead brilliant.
The script to Drag Me To Hell was written nearly twenty years ago, just after the third Evil Dead film, but Raimi's other geek pursuits stood in the way. Burnt out, he decided to take a break and go back to what he's good at, what we all want him to be doing; and it's great.

For a simple, shallow horror, it's refreshing for it to be so morally ambiguous. Christine Brown is a country girl making her way in the city; with a rich, college professor boyfriend and a shot at becoming assistant manager of the bank she works in, if only the sweet little farm girl can show some backbone. To prove herself, she refuses to give a loan extension to an old gypsy woman who is to be evicted from her home. In return, the gypsy places the curse of the Lamia on Christine. In three days, she's going to be dragged to hell and tortured for all eternity, unless she can find someone to take her place. Christine's actions are perfectly understandable, but also selfish and cruel. As such - though you can support her attempts to escape her fate - in a way, she deserves it.

Otherwise, the film follows Raimi's standard format. Individual scenes can leave you confused at to whether you want to laugh, be afraid or vomit. Inappropriate humour and Looney-Tunes violence are the order of the day, along with the kind of genuinely-disturbing scares you thought Eli Roth had killed off years ago.
Alison Lohman, as the lead, is fairly standard, though Die Hard 4 and Jeepers Creepers uber-geek Justin Long is brilliant in the straight-man role and deserves to be offered more of this kind of thing. On the other hand, the scheduling conflict-related absence of Bruce Campbell's mighty chin is a major disappointment.

Overall, if you love B-movies and cheesey horror, this is the kind of film you'll have a memorably-fun, one-night fling with, but it's not relationship material; and it isn't intended to be, judging by the gut-punch ending. This is real, old-school grindhouse entertainment and doesn't want to be anything else. Please, if you're out there Sam, just do more of this and leave Spider-man alone.

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